High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill

Written evidence from David Dundas (HSR 21)

I am a Board Member of the local Business Enterprise Partnership and a Lichfield City Councillor for just over 10 years. A Governor of the acute hospital in Burton upon Trent since 2008, which manages 2 community hospitals. I have a small business in Lichfield supplying professional equipment. I have a degree in chemistry and biochemistry and I am a trained petroleum engineer.

It is my understanding from reports that I have seen on the EU website, that HS rail stations located on through routes in the centre of cities, bring a greater economic benefit to their area, than those located outside the city. This makes sense to me, as the centre of a city is likely to be the centre of the local transport hub.

Phase one of the present plan for HS2 will build a new station close to the centre of Birmingham, however the line will stop there. The line to the North will continue from Water Orton near Birmingham airport and then split to branch towards Nottingham and to Manchester. Whilst the Nottingham line will follow the route of the M42 motorway, minimising the impact on the local environment, the route to Manchester will cut through some 22 miles of Staffordshire countryside, which has provoked substantial local opposition.

It is my proposal that the HS2 line to the north towards Manchester, should be from the Birmingham HS2 station, in a deep tunnel of about 10 miles, to avoid conflict with the local rail network. The northern side of Birmingham is on rising ground, which would facilitate the deep tunnel, which in turn would offer the opportunity to build the HS2 station much closer to the present central station at New Street, or even to be built below it.

Although a tunnel is usually far more expensive than an overland line, when all the costs of construction, compensation and litigation arising from an overland line, are taken into account, it seems quite likely that the overland cost could be greater than the cost of a tunnel, without even adding the environmental cost. The cost differential should be properly assessed before a final decision is taken on the route to the north.

If the present plan to route the north west HS2 line through Staffordshire is maintained, when trains are running from London to Manchester and beyond, Birmingham will find itself at the end of a branch line. A tunnel would keep Birmingham on the main line to the North, which in turn will bring greater economic benefits to the region, whilst avoiding the environmental damage to a large part of the Staffordshire countryside.

July 2013

Prepared 16th July 2013