High Speed Rail 2

The Government has made a statement in the Commons on it's preferred route for HS2

Changes to the proposed route of the HS2 high-speed rail line will "significantly mitigate'' the impact of the 250mph trains on communities along the London-Birmingham line, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said today.

In a Commons statement Mr Hammond insisted the scheme would help tackle the north-south divide by slashing travelling times to and from the capital.

But he acknowledged that some along the preferred route would see their property values fall and announced that officials were working on a compensation scheme.

The proposed line passes through Tory heartlands, including the Chesham and Amersham constituency of Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan.

Under proposed changes to the route between Amersham and Wendover in Buckinghamshire Mr Hammond said there were opportunities for a ``green bridge'' over the cutting and a longer ``green tunnel''.

Here's the latest map from the Government

Here are all the close up maps

Philip Hammond also decided that the Heathrow link should be a spur.  He has asked us to draw up detailed plans for this link to form part of the consultation in phase 2 of the proposed network.  Before that, passengers would be able to change to fast Heathrow Express services at Old Oak Common and there would be a direct interchange with Crossrail.

The proposed link with HS1 would allow HS2 services to run directly through to Europe.  It could accommodate three services an hour in each direction.

The changes to the proposed line of route are:

·        Primrose Hill: we have moved the tunnel 100 metres further north to bring it closer to the proposed locations for vent shafts, it would also be deeper underground

·        HS1:  HS2 would link directly with HS1 from Old Oak Common to the HS1 line. The line would be in tunnel to Chalk Farm, then run above ground along the North London Line and into the HS1 tunnel just north of St Pancras.  It would not affect current levels of service on the North London Line.

·        Northolt Corridor:  we have reduced of the width of corridor from 22 to 16 metres; have moved alignment slightly further away from housing to reduce the amount of land taken; and have lowered the alignment to allow the Chiltern Line to pass over HS2 on a viaduct

·        Heathrow:  in order to construct the direct link to Heathrow as part of the second phase of the high speed network, there would need to be some construction work in phase 1, including an underbridge and a length of retaining wall at Northolt

·        Old Amersham to Little Missenden: we have included a 150 metre green bridge over the cutting to reduce its visual impact and avoid severing a public right of way

·        South Heath to Wendover: we have lowered the alignment by around five metres, and incorporated a 900 metre green tunnel as the line  passes South Heath to reduce its visual and noise impacts on the village, and avoid severing existing roads

·        Hartwell House:  we have moved the alignment further from Hartwell House so that the line would not visible from the house, and incorporated additional earthworks and planting to reduce its visual and noise impacts

·        Brackley:  we have moved the alignment further from Mixbury, Brackley and Greatworth, and lowered it so that it would be in a deeper cutting to reduce noise impacts

·        Edgcote and Chipping Warden:  we have moved the alignment away from the Grade 1 listed Edgcote House to preserve the ornamental lake, but it would be no closer to local villages; and have lowered and covered the line where it passes Chipping Warden to reduce the visual and noise impacts on the village

·        Ladbroke and Southam:  we have moved the alignment eastwards away from Ladbroke, it would now run in cutting and at surface level, avoiding the need for a long viaduct

·        Stoneleigh:  we have lowered the alignment by between five and ten metres and moved it away from the village of Stoneleigh

·        Burton Green:  we have lowered the alignment and covered the line as it passes through Burton Green to reduce the visual and noise impacts on the village

·        Lichfield:  we have moved the alignment further from Lichfield meaning it would join the West Coast Main Line further north

In response to the announcement, The Countryside Alliance told Heart they believe that the Government’s statement on the high speed rail link between London and Birmingham fails to reassure communities affected by the line and make the business case for HS2.

Alice Barnard, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance said:

“Despite rural people being most affected by the proposed HS2 route, communities living in the countryside will see no local benefits. There are no proposed stations outside London and Birmingham. This confirms that high speed rail travel will be accessible for people living in urban areas but the impact felt by those living in the countryside. 

“The proposed route of HS2 will fundamentally alter large sections of the British countryside, hugely affect rural people living along the route and yet will not offer any benefits to those communities. The devastation this route would have on communities must be taken into consideration.

“The Government has not taken into account the economic and environmental costs the route will have because the HS2 business model is deeply flawed. The Countryside Alliance believes this project needs to be reappraised from an economic, social and environmental perspective.  At a time when we are seeing 20 per cent cuts to most Departmental budgets, it is certainly not a time to be spending billions of pounds on an unsound project.”  

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