High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents


Written evidence from Lichfield City Council (HSR 30)

1.  INTRODUCTION

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 ROUTE

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 station—Curzon Street—which was closed to passengers in 1859 when a better station site—New Street—was 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 station.

3.2  The plans for Birmingham's high speed railway station appear to show only one way out—this would be highly inconvenient and time consuming for travellers. On leaving the station there seems to be a very long walk—the 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 time.

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 flawed—it 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 Heathrow—no 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.

May 2011


 
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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 8 November 2011