The Government is seeking views on the proposed national high speed rail strategy……and on the recommended line of the route for an initial London-West Midlands line. This line is known as “HS2” and the company concerned are HS2 Ltd. You are asked “whether or not you agree with its proposals and why, [and if there is] any additional evidence that you feel it should consider in reaching its final decisions”. You will need to fill out a questionnaire in paper form or on-line; this should be received by HS2 Ltd by 29th July 2011. The paper version can be obtained by requesting one from HS2 Ltd Enquiries on 020 7944 4908. The on-line form and information can be found at: http://highspeedrail.dft.gov.uk/
The line of the route between the villages of Sulgrave, Greatworth and Thorpe Mandeville is shown on the map below:
The line would pass within 200 metres of the nearest houses in Greatworth, 350 metres of those in Thorpe Mandeville and 1400 metres of those in Sulgrave. It would pass through the middle of Lower Thorpe.
The following map is an extract from the Department for Transport Route Map, tilted so that the orientation is north-south. It gives details of the lengths of the proposed line which would be in cutting, at ground level, on viaduct and so on, together with details of the proposed bridges.
At a meeting in Sulgrave Manor on 19th May, chaired by Ken Christy, 128 people were addressed by representatives of the SOUTH NORTHANTS ACTION GROUP (SNAG against HS2).
The government’s consultation document contains seven questions, viz:
1. Do you agree that there is a strong case for enhancing the capacity and performance of Britain’s inter-city rail network to support economic growth over the coming decades?
2. Do you agree that a national high speed rail network from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester (the Y network) would provide the best value for money solution (best balance of costs and benefits) for enhancing rail capacity and performance?
3. Do you agree with the Government’s proposals for the phased roll-out of a national high speed rail network, and for links to Heathrow Airport and to the High Speed 1 line to the Channel Tunnel?
4. Do you agree with the principles and specification used by HS2 Ltd to underpin its proposals for new high speed rail lines and the route selection process HS2 Ltd undertook?
5. Do you agree that the Government’s proposed route, including the approach proposed for mitigating its impacts, is the best option for a new high speed rail line between London and the West Midlands?
6. Do you wish to comment on the appraisal of Sustainability of the Government’s proposed route between London and the West Midlands that has been published to inform this consultation?
7. Do you agree with the options set out to assist those whose properties lose a significant amount of value as a result of any new high speed line?
The SNAG speakers set out careful reasoned justifications for saying “NO” to each of these questions, as follows:
- The consultation is skewed to support HS2 and sensible alternatives such as RP2 are dismissed out of hand. The information provided is biased and often of poor quality.
- The alternatives such as RP2 based on enhancing the current extensive network will meet all of the needs at a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the time and be available to everyone.
- HS2 will only serve a select minority of the population (probably less than 5%) in a few centres, but we will all pay for it.
- The case for HS2 is based on ridiculously high passenger growth figures. At more reasonable levels, the line will lose money and will probably be sold off at a loss.
- The line will be a sustainability disaster for carbon emissions, environment and heritage destruction and blight for tens of thousands of properties during and after construction.
- The compensation options are vague and non-committal. We need certainty NOW.
Local Member of Parliament Andrea Leadsom addressed the meeting. She stressed that the proposals for the high speed line were by no means set in stone. She had become convinced that HS2 was the wrong strategy for enhancing rail capacity and performance. She is calling for an independent comparison of HS2 with the current proposals for enhancing existing intercity routes with longer trains, removing bottlenecks and increasing speeds to 140mph (a strategy known as RP2 in respect of the West Coast Main Line). She said that the coalition government had shown itself willing to listen to alternative ideas and urged everyone to make their views known through the consultation process.
REMEMBER: YOUR VIEWS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO HS2 Ltd BY 29TH JULY 2011.