Written evidence from the Campaign to
Protect Rural England, Warwickshire Branch (HSR 146)|
High Speed 2 is the wrong type of high speed railway.
What is needed is a realistic, economic and practical approach
which upgrades the best of our existing major routes and adds
new sections of line where necessary and environmentally feasible.
The High Speed 2 proposal is a very costly separate,
segregated railway with different standards, unable to be used
by any trains than those specially built. It would serve just
four cities, bypass several others, and seems orientated to serve
airports rather than places where people live and work.
There has been no public consultation on the principle
of this concept compared to other approaches to upgrading the
country's main railway network.
CPRE supports the development and improvement of
our railways, so that taking the train becomes a better way to
travel than car or plane where possible. But the exacting engineering
specification of HS2 - trains capable of speeds of 250 mph - mean
that an acceptable alignment through the Warwickshire countryside
is virtually impossible. In addition to the high speeds, the tracks
will need to be wider apart and tunnels larger than on conventional
railways. So very high speed lines are more expensive to construct
and have a greater impact on the local environment.
"Nature abhors a straight line", wrote
William Kent, the C18th landscape gardener who inspired Capability
Brown. An almost straight railway line across 35 miles of Warwickshire
countryside with its gentle hills, ancient woodlands and patchwork
of fields will conflict with the whole character and patina of
our landscape, which has evolved over many centuries. The deep
cuttings, high banks and bridges across wide river valleys, and
the loss of some houses (even a complete small village in the
first draft of the route) will do serious damage to the County.
There has been no public consultation on the design
requirements. If the same speed as on the new line through Kent
to the Channel Tunnel, 185 mph, is adopted, a line can be more
curved, a mix of new and existing lines could be used and the
county's most beautiful countryside would be avoided.
CPRE has set out five tests against which we believe
that high-speed rail proposals in England should be judged. These
have the objective of ensuring that new high-speed lines support
sustainable development, respect environmental limits and will
assist and not conflict with the sound planning of the areas it
serves or crosses. They are to:
(1) Protect the environment, by for example using
existing transport corridors.
(2) Tackle climate change and minimise energy
(3) Shift existing trips rather than generate
(4) Improve local transport.
(5) Integrate with planning and regional regeneration.
These tests are not met by High Speed 2.
(1) Existing transport corridors are not to be
used at all.
(2) The energy consumption is high. 50% more
energy will be required to run HS2's proposed 250 mph trains than
the existing Eurostar London-Paris trains use.
(3) There are no commercial flights from Birmingham
to London to be switched to rail; instead the scheme would generate
wholly new travel and lead to longer journeys as it enables more
distant destinations to be reached in the same time.
(4) The new line as so far proposed would have
no links with local transport and no effective interchange with
other rail services.
(5) The line would not serve areas needing economic
development - in the West Midlands Nuneaton, North Coventry, or
the Black Country.
The most burdened inter-city main line is the West
Coast Main Line between Euston and Rugby, and between Coventry
and Birmingham. The 10-mile length between Rugby and Coventry
is suitable for high speed and has adequate capacity. North of
Rugby to Manchester and Liverpool, the Trent Valley line, which
runs through northern Warwickshire, has considerable spare capacity
following four-tracking of the two-track section in 2004-08. The
need for more capacity is south of Rugby.
Widening the Coventry-Birmingham line from two to
four tracks is stated by Centro (West Midlands Passenger Transport
Executive) to be needed whether HS2 is built or not. The mix of
fast and local trains on this line cannot be handled without separate
tracks for the intensive stopping service that Centro wishes to
offer. With four tracks between Coventry and Birmingham, high-speed
trains could use the line and serve Birmingham International as
A new central Birmingham station at Curzon Street
would be of great benefit. But the HS2 Ltd proposal, a terminal
station solely used by its segregated service, is the wrong type.
Other services would have to continue to use the congested New
Street station, which the current concourse-level reconstruction
will not enlarge. The Arup proposal for a through "Grand
Central" station at Curzon Street remains wholly feasible
and should be recommended for appraisal now. It would:
for the full length of high-speed trains that international standards
specify (400 m);
a national rail interchange for movements across the country,
to the standard of the most modern European stations (such as
direct interchange between high-speed trains, regional express
services, Birmingham suburban lines, and the city's tram system
at one station; and
London-Birmingham high-speed trains to continue to Sandwell &
Dudley, Wolverhampton, and (with electrification) Telford and
Shrewsbury; they would not have to turn back at Curzon Street
as would the trains proposed by HS2 Ltd.
CPRE Warwickshire believes that the Transport Committee
of the type of high-speed railway represented by the HS2 Ltd proposal;
public consultation over the next year on:
type of high-speed rail that the UK should have - a separate railway
(as in Spain and as proposed by HS2 Ltd) or additions to the existing
network (as in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy).
design standards of any new lines - speed, curvature, loading
scope for the existing major railway routes, or parts of them,
to act as high-speed lines for speeds above 125 mph (200 kph).
part in the future rail network should be played by new lines.
provision of separate tracks, and where necessary routes, for