You may have heard about the plans for the much-vaunted HS2, or High Speed 2, rail link. The aim is to join Leeds, Manchester, the East Midlands, Birmingham, Sheffield and London, with journey times dramatically slashed to just 49 minutes for a London to Birmingham trip, or 1hr 40 minutes to Manchester.
It all sounds rather lovely. But with work not planned to start until 2017 and the full route not completed until 2033, we still have a very long way to go before the dream becomes a reality. If the plan doesn’t get delayed, of course.
But why are we discussing a planned high-speed train track on a property marketing website? When the ‘Phase 1’ of HS2 is complete, Birmingham could very well become somewhere where people who work in London commute to and from. Currently, the very quickest train between the two destinations is 1 hour and 12 minutes. This is if you are lucky, average journey times are longer. HS2 will provide a quick route on a regular, 3 times per hour, routine.
Is Birmingham set to be the next mecca of London executives wanting to save money on their extortionate London commuting costs? Quite possibly. But what about the other way around? What if firms currently based in London moved to near a HS2 station in Birmingham? Cheaper land and expenses could be a big factor. Plus, existing team members could realistically take the 49-minute commute from their London flat to Birmingham for work.
There are plans in the HS2 proposal so the line could potentially be used for shipments and quicker supply chain management through the use of quicker freight trains. Imagine ordering something from a supplier in Manchester and it arriving within 2 hours, not a day or two. Other scenarios such as a last minute meetings with a different department located elsewhere in the country or visit to suppliers or clients will become less of a headache.
The HS2 could cut down business time and thus expenses racked up by driving. Having an office located with easy access to the train line could be a long-term, cost-saving, measure. It is a great added value proposition too for businesses looking for new larger premises or to relocate, as from their point of view, they could be able to recruit key members from further afield.
But the main focus currently seems to be in homes and flats that people would buy or rent with the sole purpose of easy commuting. The excitement in the property market around this subject matter is palpable. Crewe has been hammering home the message that HS2 will be a “Gateway to the Northern Powerhouse” and property valuations are already rising as a result.
From a property marketing point of view, now could be the best time to invest in an area on the HS2 route. Certainly, any office spaces in the area must advertise the fact that the amazing high-speed rail link is nearby and potentially bake that into their messages going forward as soon as possible. An office block with easy access to HS2 will surely be a potential winner, but we need to make sure that the ‘easy commute’ message is put across as early as now.