Written evidence from Lichfield City Council
1.1 Lichfield City Council, at its meeting on
11 April 2011 confirmed its support in principle for High Speed
Rail and in doing so recognised that the revisions published in
December 2010 were an improvement on the original proposals. However,
the Council remained convinced that further improvements would
still be required to deliver the quality of rail service which
is being proposed.
1.2 This submission is specifically intended
to raise issues for the Committee to consider in relation to the
business case and strategic route.
2. BUSINESS CASE
2.1 Lichfield City Council believes that the
suggested time savings for most journeys will not be achievable
because of the proposed locations of the stations. Any time saving
on the high-speed element of a journey would subsequently be lost
at either end.
2.2 Actual journeys do not start and end at a
high-speed station but include getting to and from the station
itself. In determining the time saving on a high speed journey
you must therefore look at the whole journey, not just at the
high speed part of it. This is crucial to the time saving part
of the economic case; and the location of stations and their connections
are therefore critical.
2.3 It is claimed that HS2 is necessary because
increased use of railways will make the existing system inadequate.
However, HS2 will join the existing West Coast Main Line a few
miles north of Lichfield and making space for high speed trains
will therefore reduce its capacity. This section of line was recently
widened from two to four tracks (the TV4 project) to increase
its capacity. The widening works gave years of misery to some
Lichfield residents, but since completion there has been an improved
Lichfield service on this main line.
2.4 There is a further disadvantage with this
junction. The proposed high-speed trains do not tilt; the existing
Pendolino trains do. Since the line north of Lichfield is curvaceous,
nowhere more so than the approaches to Stafford, high-speed trains
will be slower than existing trains for the rest of their journey
to Manchester, Glasgow or wherever. This certainly affects that
part of the economic case which is based on time saving.
3. THE STRATEGIC
3.1 A mile before the end of the Lichfield to
Birmingham New Street railway journey, and on the right hand side
of the line, is an empty space with a dour classical building
next to it. The Grade I Listed classical building was built for
Birmingham's first railway stationCurzon Streetwhich
was closed to passengers in 1859 when a better station siteNew
Streetwas found. New Street is still a better site because
it is in the City Centre, because most of Birmingham's railway
services use it, and because buses and taxis are nearby. The empty
space is the proposed site of Birmingham's high speed railway
3.2 The plans for Birmingham's high speed railway
station appear to show only one way outthis would be highly
inconvenient and time consuming for travellers. On leaving the
station there seems to be a very long walkthe length of
the platform; then the length of the concourse; then the bridge
over the inner ring road; then a descent to ground level. There
appears to be no pedestrian link to Moor Street or New Street
stations, no taxi ranks, no car park, not even a bus stop. All
the time saved getting to Birmingham Curzon Street will then be
spent getting to the final destination. No saving in total journey
3.3 Another disadvantage with Curzon Street is
that there is no railway connection with the rest of the network.
Trains cannot run on to serve Wolverhampton or the Black Country
or anywhere except Curzon Street. On the continent high speed
trains often do just that. HS2 in Birmingham is surely a waste
of money unless it gets to New Street. And once there, it could
continue northwards to Manchester.
3.4 The proposed Birmingham International high
speed station is similarly flawedit isn't at International,
it is a mile away. So the time saved in getting to the high speed
station is going to be wasted in getting to the airport, NEC or
other final destination. No saving in total journey time again.
3.5 No Heathrow station is proposed in phase
1. This is surely a mistake as there is no satisfactory way of
getting from the West Midlands to Heathrowno planes, no
through trains, not even a through train from London Euston station.
3.6 Heathrow should be included in phase 1. Its
main international competitors as a hub airport for Europe (Paris,
Amsterdam and Frankfurt) have all got busy stations with high
speed railway services.