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High Speed Two railway, United Kingdom


High Speed 2 (HS2) is a planned high-speed railway proposed to London Euston from the English Midlands. The project is being developed by High Speed Two Ltd, a company limited by guarantee established by the UK government. The line is to be built in two phases with the section between London and Birmingham being the first phase. The route would take the form of a 'Y', with a trunk between London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street. The route would then split into two spurs, one continuing to Manchester Piccadilly via Crewe and Manchester Airport and the other to Leeds via East Midlands and Sheffield. I twill consist of 400m-long (1,300ft) trains, with up to 1,100 seats per train. They would operate at speeds of up to 400 km/hr - faster than any current operating speed in Europe and would travel up to 14 times per hour in each direction.

More than 70 groups oppose HS2. One, StopHS2, argues that Englands north and Midlands will lose out to London, rather than benefit, and that projections do not take into account competition from conventional rail. Others object on the grounds that it will cut through picturesque countryside and affect areas of high natural value. Eighteen councils along the route against the scheme, known as the 51m group, say taxpayers cannot afford the line and that it will increase greenhouse gas emissions. They argue that trains operating at such high speeds are not any less polluting than planes, and can even be more so. A 400 km/hr train uses twice the fuel as a 200km/hr train argue the opponents.

As the works are not planned to start until 2016, there is time to stop the project.

Basic Data

NameHigh Speed Two railway, United Kingdom
CountryUnited Kingdom
ProvinceLondon, East Midlands, West Midlands
SiteSeveral (Railway)
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesTransportation Services
Tourism services

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsWidth: 72 m Speed: 400 kph
Project Area (in hectares)225 km route
Level of Investment (in USD)26500000000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Company Names or State EnterprisesHigh Speed Two Limited from United Kingdom
Relevant government actorsDepartment of Transport
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersStop HS2. Campaigning organisation with supporters that come from a wide range of backgrounds and from across the political spectrum., HS2 Action Alliance, an umbrella group for opposition groups including ad hoc entities, residents associations, and parish councils.

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Development of Alternatives- The New Economics Foundation issued a report containing an alternative package of investments in: mainline rail, regional rail and station redevelopment, in mass transit and buses, in active transport and in future connectivity.

- There is also the 51m Alternative Solution to HS2. Key points are: (I) increasing the length of existing InterCity trains from the current 9 or 11 cars to 12 cars(except Liverpool) and (II) reducing the number of first class vehicles in each train from 4 to 3, by converting one car from first to standard class.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.It is too early to judge. So far, the Government seems determined to proceed with the construction of the high speed railway.

Sources and Materials


EU Directive 96/48/EC


The Wildlife Trusts position Statement: TWT Position Statement Oct 2010 FINAL.pdf

New Economics Foundation (2013). High Speed 2: The best we can do? Creating value from £33 billion. Creative Commons.

Department for Transport (2013). High Speed 2: A review of early programme preparation.

Wikipedia reference:

Why so Fast? High Speed Train Crash questions our need for speed



HS2 Project web page:

HS2 Action Alliance:

BBC articles:

BBC articles:

Government information:

HS2 - the hidden cost to Britains wildlife:

Articles in The Guardian:

Media Links

BBC Countryfile report on HS2 threat to Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Meta Information

ContributorAlfred Burballa Noria
Last update08/04/2014