Europe’s biggest infrastructure project is now back on track after the British Prime Minister threw his weight behind it. The High Speed 2 (HS2) line is set to link London to cities in Northern England, cutting travel times in half.
Work is slated to begin in April 2020 after Boris Johnson’s cabinet gave the green light. But the project has proved to be hugely controversial. Its budget has already doubled, and environmental groups worry that wildlife and woodlands would be destroyed.
Its full speed ahead for the UK’s high speed rail. Approved in 2012, under Prime Minister David Cameron, the high speed rail named HS2 isn’t set to be completed until as late as 2040. It would first connect London to Birmingham in central England, before splitting into two and heading to Manchester in the west and Leads in the east.
The project is meant to bring UK’s old and crowded rail network to the level of countries like France and Spain. But predicted costs have nearly doubled to £106 billion, or over $138 billion.
Boosting infrastructure spending in the north of England, is one of Johnson’s campaign promises. But conservative lawmakers are worried about spiraling costs, and the impact on constituencies cut through by the route, making HS2 a rare source of division for the ruling party.
The project is also opposed by environmental activists, who says the route will cut through 100 ancient woodlands, resulting in one of the largest deforestation act in Britain since World War One.