Anti High Speed Campaigners Visit No.10

11 October 2011, 06:00

The Stop The HS2 protest group take their next step in a long campaign against plans for a 225mph train link between London and the North, today.

Following a change in the the law last year, giving people the right to force parliamentary debates after collecting 100,000 signatures, the group will be handing in at least that number to Number 10 this afternoon.

The petitioners will then be attending a Rail Summit in London tomorrow, before a long-awaited debate on Parliament which is expected to take place as early as Thursday.

Penny Gaines told Heart why they are handing in a petition today "It's to keep up the political pressure on the Government, on Transport Secretary Philip Hammond and make them realise, that most people in the country, when they look at the details, are against HS-2."

Joe Rukin added: "The fact that HS-2 has progressed so far without a debate in the Main Chamber of Parliament is a disgrace, but even now, MPs won't be able to actually vote on HS2 before Transport Secretary Philip Hammond decides whether he wants to go ahead or not. The whole process, which began with the unelected unaccountable Lord Adonis (previous Government) just waking up one morning and deciding he wanted a high speed train, sticks two fingers up at the ideas of representative democracy.

Official argument FOR HS-2

The Government believes that a national high speed rail network offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way we travel in Britain as the railways are struggling to cope with the huge increases in passenger numbers we've seen in recent years. In 1994 rail passengers travelled fewer than 18 billion miles, in 2009 this rose to almost 32 billion miles.

The Government believes a new rail line is needed simply to address these capacity issues. However, by making this a high speed network, we also could grasp a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-shape Britain's economic geography and ensure that every part of the country contributes to, and benefits from, future growth and prosperity.

There's a strong business case for a high speed network. The Government is proposing to build a 'Y-shaped' network from London to Birmingham and then on to Manchester and Leeds. A network of this kind would create around £44 billion in benefits for the UK – well over £2 of benefits for every £1 spent. The first stage alone (London to the West Midlands) would deliver around 40,000 jobs as well as providing the foundation for the more significant benefits provided by the wider network.

Over 10% of the line would be in tunnel.

The line would be no more than 22 metres wide in any place, about one third the width of a motorway.

High speed rail lines have to be quite straight to maintain their speed. There are no viable routes for a high speed rail line between London and the West Midlands that do not cross the Chilterns at some point.  However, the proposed route through the Chilterns makes full use of tunnels, cuttings and existing transport corridors to minimise its impacts on the landscape

In addition to at least 40,000 jobs, a high speed rail network would also transform our economic geography, bring our key cities closer together, enable businesses to operate more productively