High speed rail opinion - CPRE

PUBLISHED: 10:40 21 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:36 20 February 2013

Yellow marker shows where the rail link would pass through the local area

Yellow marker shows where the rail link would pass through the local area

In the June edition of Warwickshire Life our correspondent Nicholas Butler outlined the case for and against the new high speed rail link from London to Birmingham (or HS2 as it's known). We received this response from Diana Levett of Kenilworth.

Our house, along with approximately a dozen other properties and possibly the Village Hall in Burton Green, could be demolished if this project goes ahead. The Burton Green Action Group is now one of 30 groups from affected areas along the route. Their aim is to produce an intelligent response to the proposals, not from a NIMBY standpoint, but to bring about the right result in the national interest, while seeking fair compensation for those affected.
Nicholas Butler' s article certainly gives the basic information required to alert people to the damaging effect high speed rail could have on the county. I am, however, very concerned that it assumes that the advent of HS2 is inevitable and that a speed of 250 mph is essential in order to solve the country's transport problems. The Action Groups are working flat out to alert people to the serious shortcomings they are discovering in the proposals, in the hope that there is a better alternative.
A superficial study of the HS2 report makes the proposals sound attractive, but there are serious flaws in both the Business Case and Environmental credentials.

Here are a few facts:
The Business case is based on there being 145,000 travellers per day on HS2 alone by 2033. In 2008 only 3,646 of the daily total of 45,000 West Coast Main line passengers made the journey from Birmingham to London. Current Coventry and Warwickshire users are unlikely to make the additional journey to an HS2 station as the time gained will be marginal. Even using the HS2 report's figures there is only a financial benefit if a significant cost is placed on the shorter journey time - but for most users, time on the train is not wasted as there are increasing facilities for laptop computers.
HS2 is seen by politicians of all parties as a being a Green issue, good for the Environment. Yet trains travelling at 250mph will create over twice as much carbon dioxide as those that travel at current TGV speeds 186mph. What is the real necessity for 250mph, when no other European country uses this speed?
Compensation for people affected by public sector developments is so out-dated. If your house has to be knocked down you can expect to be compulsorily purchased, but there is no guarantee from past experience that you won't have to fight for its true value.
HS1 in Kent has recently announced a reduction in the length of its trains, not enough people are using it. Why? They are having to travel further to get to a station the trains stop at, and the St Pancras terminal is not appropriate for most business commuters. This completely destroys the point of a faster journey time. The same result is likely for the current version of HS2 plans.


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