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High Speed | Rapid Response – View from High Speed 2

Across the world the population is growing and also the drift to city living continues.

andrew mc naughton

Andrew McNaughton

McNaughton: Population growth brings major challenges for transport

Britain is no different. In England alone, some 40M people live in our major city regions and by 2050 that figure will be nearer 60M.

These bring major challenges including for transport. How people travel between them; economic health and simple liveability depend on the easy and congestion-free movement of people and goods – in cities, commuting to them and, vitally, between them. Congestion stifles economic growth and, at a human level, it wastes peoples’ lives.

Industrialised nations have seen high speed rail as a 21st century solution to transport between city regions. It offers dramatic new capacity to respond to travel growth; a two track high speed line can carry more passengers than two new motorways.

It offers dramatic changes to the way cities grow together as people are brought closer together – distance becoming measured in journey time not distance. And after half a century of rapid technical development, which is still continuing, high speed rail offers frequency, dependability and safety with a very light carbon footprint.

As a complementary benefit it releases existing main railways and roads to provide new capacity for passenger commuting and freight haulage growth.

High Speed Two is building on the world’s collective wisdom and innovating to take the system further. The freedom to design a new intercity transport mode from scratch – re-inventing rail in the way our fathers re-invented road travel with the motorways in the last century, which was (Lord) Andrew Adonis’s challenge in 2009 – is being taken to the full.   

We will excite travellers and change the perception of inter-city travel as we connect our major city regions. Passenger-led and engineering driven, we will excite generations of engineers too!

  • Andrew McNaughton is HS2 Ltd technical director



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