Latest Rail News

02.10.14

HS2 scraps canal viaducts near Lichfield in favour of tunnels

Plans to run HS2 over viaducts in South Staffordshire have been scrapped, with an alternative engineering solution proposed, HS2 Ltd has confirmed. 

The amendments to the phase one route will mean the track will now pass under the A38, the West Coast Main Line and the South Staffordshire Line. This means the two planned crossings over the Trent & Mersey Canal have now been mothballed. 

Campaigners had warned that embankments and crossings close to the listed Woodend Lock and Lock Cottage on the Trent & Mersey Canal would have had a dramatic impact on a tranquil length of rural canal currently enjoyed by boaters, walkers and cyclists. 

The changes follow petitions from local residents and stakeholders, including the Canals & Rivers Trust, and follows on from the news that the National High Speed College will be based in Birmingham. 

HS2 Ltd and Staffordshire Count Council worked together to modify the route. 

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP, who proposed the alterations, said: “This decision underlines the ongoing work HS2 Ltd is doing with communities along the route to ensure the construction of this vital new railway takes their views into account. 

“I am confident that by working together we can ensure HS2 is designed in the right way, and we will have spades in the ground in 2017 as planned.” 

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant added that it was a “major victory” for campaigners who have been appalled at the height of the viaduct as it crosses the A38 and West Coast Main Line. 

The government gave the go-ahead for a HS2, which will be a Y-shaped rail network providing direct, high capacity, high speed rail links between London and Birmingham and onto Manchester and Leeds, back in January 2012. Since then, the route has been highly controversial. 

Commenting on the design changes, HS2’s chief executive Simon Kirby said: “I am delighted that through partnership working with Staffordshire County Council we have been able to find an engineering solution that reduces HS2’s impact on the area. 

“Subsequent partnership working with Staffordshire County Council to further investigate the ground conditions produced results that presented the opportunity for improved route design.” 

(Map, top, shows the original viaduct plans for the canal crossings. Copyright HS2 Ltd, containing Ordnance Survey / Land Registry Crown Copyright material.) 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

George Thackray   08/10/2014 at 22:04

Good news that Simon Kirby is delighted to find an engineering solution that reduces HS2's impact in South Staffordshire. Here's hoping that he can do the same thing with regard to tunneling under the Chilterns AONB to avoid the devastating impact and dangers of the present plans.

Henry Law   10/10/2014 at 13:57

How much will that add to the cost of this wretched scheme?

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