The UK’s brand-new High-Speed Rail Network, known as HS2, has been designed to create a cutting-edge travel network between the UK's biggest cities: London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds.
With the service set to travel at speeds of up to 250 mph, HS2 will be the fastest rail network in Europe. Once complete, mainline commuter services and intercity trains departing from Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester will double to 48 services per hour, while the total number of seats on intercity services will treble to 15,000 per hour. Government officials are predicting that the line will reduce congestion on busy road routes, with approximately 9 million journeys expected to be transferred from the roads per year.
The High-Speed Rail Network represents an opportunity for the Rail industry to flourish. Railway contracts worth £11bn, as well as contracts worth £7.5bn for rolling stock, i.e. railway carriages, wagons, and cars are available with 60% expected to be distributed among small and medium-sized businesses.
HS2 is being heralded as a landmark moment, sparking business growth and investment opportunities in some of the UK’s major cities. Key regional cities such as Manchester and Birmingham in particular, are set to reap the benefits of the groundbreaking development.
HS2: The Potential Impact on London
For decades, London has had a long-standing reputation as being the pinnacle for workers with lofty career aspirations. A 2018 study comprising 400,000 participants from 200 countries solidified London’s reputation, indicating that London is considered more desirable than the likes of New York, Berlin, and Barcelona from a working perspective.
However, as the city has become more and more expensive for people to both live and work in, the commuter belt around the capital has grown bigger and bigger. This has led to some commutes for those working in the capital to be upwards of two hours.
With statistics indicating that commuters who regularly travel for long periods are 33% more likely to experience depressive tendencies, while 37% are more likely to worry about finance, it will come as a welcome change to hear that HS2 will reduce these travel times, facilitating a healthier lifestyle.
A cut in commuting time in and around London may not be the only significant shift. With UK economic output currently heavily concentrated within London, it is being forecast that HS2 will bring about an economic shift following its completion. Many businesses are now moving operations away from London and migrating to other major cities where the overheads of running a business are significantly lower.
Combine the move of big businesses out of London, with the reduction in travel times between key UK cities, and HS2 represents an opportunity for workers to live and work in two different cities – a scenario previously unrealistic due to the time and distance between them. This would therefore make it possible for someone to live in Manchester and commute every day to and from London.
This possibility would allow people to combine the appeal or working in the capital, with a more affordable city centre lifestyle. While rentals in Manchester are increasing year on year, with average rental costs in the city increasing by 30% in the last four years, it is still much more affordable than the capital, where tenants are charged an average rent of £1,473 per month, double the national average. There are clear financial benefits of living and working in different cities, and HS2 will make this more attainable.
70% of jobs generated for the construction of HS2 will be based outside of the capital, a testament to the changing economic trends affiliated with the network.
HS2: The Potential Impact on Manchester
A cosmopolitan city steeped in history; Manchester is famous around the world.
World-class sports teams, an iconic music scene, diverse nightlife, and exquisite architecture have contributed to Manchester being named the most popular UK city to live in, according to The 2018 Economist’s Global Livability Index.
The introduction of HS2 to the city represents an opportunity to even further enhance Manchester’s appeal, as outlined by the city’s Mayor, Andy Burnham:
“HS2 could bring huge benefits to Greater Manchester and the whole of the north. Not only will it bring much-needed improvements to transport connectivity, but it could also make the areas around Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport major centres for economic growth.”
Investment into Manchester will continue in and around the HS2 network, with well-known areas such as Piccadilly benefiting from a brand new multi-purpose neighbourhood comprising office space, new-build homes and amenities for the general public.
Residents in the city and commuters living locally will be able to head to the capital in just sixty-eight minutes – less than half the current journey time. HS2 will also improve the Manchester’s local jobs market, with an influx of 40,000 jobs set to be created and 13,000 new homes scheduled to be built in the area to help meet the influx of those choosing to live in the city.
HS2: The Potential Impact on Birmingham
A total of 42,300 commuters use the train in Birmingham daily, a total surpassed only by London. The plans for HS2 will reduce journey times between Birmingham and London from nearly an hour and a half to 49 minutes.
Projected figures indicate that HS2 will greatly benefit the local economy within Birmingham, with one study indicating that the construction of HS2 will support 15,000 engineering, design and construction jobs by 2020. Moreover, as the engineering project progresses, there will be a further influx of job opportunities, with up to 50,000 jobs to be created, as well as an economic increase of £4bn per annum.
HS2 chief executive, Mark Thurston, said: “We will create a sustainable pipeline of jobs and skills for companies across the whole country, which boosts regional economies and help Britain compete internationally. Our programme will tackle the skills challenges faced by the wider transport infrastructure sector, and ensure the UK has the best skills to deliver HS2 as well as major infrastructure projects in the future.”
HS2: The impact on the UK property market
It is anticipated that HS2 will prove lucrative for investors buying property in and around the cities with major HS2 stations, with property prices expected to soar in-line with increased demand to be within easy reach of the network. For instance, our luxury Manchester development Oxygen, located within minutes of Manchester Piccadilly train station, and our Park Gate Development in Birmingham, located within minutes of the HS2 interchange, are expected to achieve high capital growth upon completion – with the value of the developments set to increase even further up completion of HS2.
HS2: The impact on the UK jobs market
HS2 signifies the dawn of an exciting era for business owners, with improved accessibility to core cities and an increase in global export opportunities.
With building and development set to last in the region of 15 years, businesses have the opportunity to supply workers for operational jobs, as well as contractors for the sustained time period. Moreover, with HS2 set to reduce commute times, workers will be more receptive to working cross-country, presenting companies with a wider range of prospective employees when recruiting.
HS2 will signal the commencement of an exhilarating new era for travel. With the scheme also set to benefit employment and property sectors, the potential impact of the network is formidable, as the UK finally strives to surpass the transport achievements previously achieved by their counterparts.
To find out more about the HS2 Network and our developments, get in touch with a member of our team here.