Connecting and Severing: a Deconstruction of the Language of HS2 Ltd (2019)

The Journey Starts Here by R~P~M is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Project summary

This project will review the language used by the UK’s Department for Transport, in the guise of HS2 Ltd, to promote and discuss the high-speed rail project. It is a critical analysis both of how this language attempts to depict the rail proposals in order to encourage public acceptance. A particular focus will be language relating to the connection of places, the severing of land and the North/South divide. The writing will, necessarily, respond to uncertain circumstances around HS2 as they develop and will attempt to keep up with ongoing developments.

The work is entirely focused on how landscape justice/injustice might be performed through the language of a powerful public body, and how access/connection to, and disconnection from landscape along the long, thin site of the proposed line is addressed or concealed through words.


This research involves a good deal of monitoring the news outlets. The HS2 project has been under government review for the whole time that I have been writing the paper, and only now has the Oakervee review published its findings and recommended that the project go ahead. Conflicting media reports have abounded over the last few months, as it became clear that the committee was not unified in its views. This has meant continual adjustment of my aims for the research, as it seemed that some areas of exploration would be more relevant and timely than others. As a result of the ongoing national debate about inequalities in the treatment of the North and the South of England, I have decided to focus more strongly on this issue.

Applicant: Joanne Phillips, UK