High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Mark Bostock (HSR 70)

I am responding to the Transport Committee's request for written submissions. I hope my submission will be the basis for me giving oral evidence.

1.  I personally was involved in identifying the alignment for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link adopted by Government in October 1991. In his statement to the House on 14 October, the Secretary of State for Transport, Mr. Malcolm Rifkin stated:

"… we have decided that a route on the lines put forward by Ove Arup which approaches central London from the east, via Stratford, is to be preferred. It would satisfy our transport objectives by providing additional capacity when it is needed. Moreover, it would minimize the impact of the line on the environment and on residual property. British Rail estimates that 38 km will be in tunnel on the easterly route (The Arup Alignment), as against 25 km on the southerly route (The British Rail/Department for Transport route). Only two domestic properties would be acquired and none demolished, as against 127 acquired and 24 demolished on the southerly route (The British Rail Alignment). British Rail further estimates that only five properties would be within 100 m of the line and 115 within 200 m against 1,900 and 5,900 respectively on the southern route (British Rail Alignment).

The impact on the landscape, too, would be less, with fewer kilometers of the easterly route in ancient woodland, on the surface in areas of outstanding natural beauty, or in green belt…

Finally, in preferring a route on the lines put forward by Ove Arup, we recognized the substantial potential that it offered for development along the east thames corridor… etc."

Hansard Volume 196 No 154 Monday 14 October 1991 pages 22/23

2.  Securing the right line for the CTRL raises many issues which I think are relevant in planning the appropriate alignment for HS2. Some of these are listed below:

—  The need for clear objectives right at the start of any new major transport investment. In the case of HS1 this was the need to link the Chunnel Tunnel portal with the national rail network to link the European and British systems. This objective was easily translated into an overriding national imperative which we were able to discuss with local interests as we were developing our alignment. This minimised any outright objections to the need for our developing alignment which was discussed and debated at length as we walked our proposed route adjusting it at the margins to meet specific local issues. Our approach contrasted with that of BR which caused outrage in Kent when they announced their southerly route.

—  Utilizing existing motorway corridors whenever possible and avoiding AONBs.

—  Providing links with the existing classic railway to enable through running services thereby creating a degree of "return" for those affected by the new alignment.

—  Moving away from a solely rail solution to more of a transport/regeneration investment opportunity by proposing intermediate stations at Ebbsfleet, with its links to the national road network and at Stratford, creating it as one of the best connected locations in the country (hence the Olympic Project).

—  The lack of any national transport strategy thwarted our plans for a high speed link to "beyond London" and for accepting the need for a four track formation from the Medway River into London (and beyond).

3.  I was involved in developing a transport/development solution to the country's first high speed railway rather than a rail-only solution and a similar approach is much needed in developing HS2. As we develop further the high speed rail network we need a proposition with clear transport objectives to maximize the economic benefits to the UK Plc from any private and public investment made by the inter-related aviation, rail and road sectors where there is an appropriate balance between speed, cost, benefits and impacts. This was at the heart of HS1's success and I do not think it has been achieved with the present proposals.

4.  My experience will hopefully help the members of the Transport Select Committee in its deliberations and I would be interested in giving oral evidence. Nicholas Faith in his book "THE RIGHT LINE: The Politics, The Planning and the against-the-odds gamble behind Britain's First High-Speed Railway" (Segrave Foulkes, 1997) gives an interesting insight into the role of the private sector in securing the alignment and the inability of the public sector to deliver it!

May 2011

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