Dr Jonathan Owens, logistics expert from the University of Salford Business School, explores the announcement today that Government will continue to back the HS2 rail project. It could secure the future of British Steel at Scunthorpe.
Dr Owens said: “HS2 needs about 170 tonnes of long product rail and switch, which can be made in British Steel Scunthorpe. Therefore, it would make sense for this to be the plant to be the main supplier for the project. Buying raw material from overseas is a waste of time, money and effort, as well as increasing the supply chain cost by up to 30%.
“Currently Jingye is stalling on the deal the negotiated in November last year. However, now that HS2 is confirmed perhaps the deal looks more appealing. HS2 is a huge investment for the UK and keeping the investment within the UK’s supply chain as much as possible is important.
“HS2 is a challenging project in several ways, and it would be useful to understand and learn from phase one how these problems can be overcome, for example purchasing of property/land and routing of the controlling cables through cities etc.
“Understanding how well it operates in the more densely populated south, and does it cut travelling time as much as promised, could provide benchmarks for phase two.
“If lessons can be learnt, adapted and improved from the first phase, then it may be worth waiting until 2035-2040 for the completion of the Manchester and Leeds connections.
“The delay for HS2 coming North to Manchester and Leeds should be an opportunity to improve and develop and improve current infrastructure by focusing on the country’s East-West rail journeys for example, increasing throughput and reducing overcrowding. The HS2 project coming to these Northern regions earlier could be a distraction on the urgent need to focus on an inadequate infrastructure.”
And travel expert, Dr Neil Robinson, said: “The Government’s support for improved rail infrastructure in England is surely a good thing, yes it’s a lot of cash but it’s often the case that developments like this are colossal in terms of funding requirements.
“Many critics have argued that the costs could be better spent on other development and improvements throughout the UK, the only problem here is that spending needs to be planned for, you can’t just say we are going to spend x amount of cash tomorrow on the following ideas, they need a blue print and a fully costed plan, HS2 has the plans in place and the diggers are at the ready.
“So, what will the future look like, well one would hope that MCR to London times are much quicker, access from London to Birmingham and wider North West of England is improved and extra capacity is made available on the train, not to mention the economic injection to the regional and national economy.”