Latest Rail News

23.02.16

Longer Chilterns tunnel amongst final HS2 committee recommendations

The High Speed Rail Committee has today published its final report, amalgamating the views of nearly 1,600 petitions into a series of recommendations to improve HS2 ahead of Parliamentary approval.

The recommendations were built on views provided by individuals and bodies directly affected by the High Speed Rail Bill, giving them the opportunity to object to elements of HS2, but not the project itself.

After 160 days of sitting spread over nearly two years, its main recommendations were for a longer Chilterns bored tunnel, greater noise protection for Wendover, better construction arrangements in Hillingdon, and a re-modelled maintenance depot at Washwood Heath to maximise job opportunities.

The committee, chaired by Conservative MP Robert Syms, also called for amendments to the discretionary compensation schemes in order to promote “greater fairness and a more functional property market” in areas along the proposed route.

Syms said: “With this report on Phase One of the High Speed Rail programme, we have endeavoured to add substantial environmental, social and design benefits to the scheme, in balance with good use of public money and a viable engineering design.”

Proposals for a longer Chilterns bored tunnel, its headline recommendation, started being considered towards the end of July last year. Over the months that followed, many hundreds of petitioners “pressed passionately” the case for a long tunnel, forcing the Commons to provide a spill-over room beyond the 40-capacity limit for several weeks in September and December.

The Bill proposed a 13.4km deep-bored tunnel under the southern section of the Chilterns to be tunnelled northward from the M25, with the line running over ground.

But petitioners proposed four other options, including two tunnels stretching beyond 23km and two shorter extensions: one of 4.1km to Leather Lane, and another preferred option of a 2.6km stretch to South Heath, costing £47m.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill MP said the Department for Transport will “consider carefully” the recommendations made and make an official response shortly.

“We have listened to those affected by the scheme and in many cases we have been able to make the changes they have been calling for,” he added.

“I am happy to say that HS2 remains firmly on schedule, and today’s report marks another significant step towards getting spades in the ground for this transformational project.”

The Bill will now be reported to the Commons and recommitted to a line-by-line scrutiny. If it then passes report stage and third reading at the Commons, it will move onto the Lords.

Euston station proposal ‘construction nightmare’

While the Bill has never formally passed through the Lords before, it already suffered a harsh blow from its Economic Affairs Select Committee last year, when peers said the government had yet to make a “convincing case” for HS2.

Lords said the government had based its justification for the high-speed project on increased rail capacity and rebalancing the UK economy, but argued the committee had not seen evidence for either.

And just today,  Lord Tony Berkeley, who sits on RTM’s editorial board, said his Euston Express team was disappointed that the committee “chose to ignore the inaccurate evidence given by HS2” about their Euston station scheme.

“Euston Express puts all HS2 and West Coast Main Line (WCML) trains onto the WCML tracks from Queens Park inwards and avoids the high cost, massive disruption and demolition to streets to the west of the line and at Euston itself,” he said.

“Euston Express, supported by a number of rail professionals, believes that the existing station can be adapted to accommodate all these trains without taking additional land, except at the south end where the tracks would be extended towards Euston Road, with a passenger deck above all platforms.”

Lord Berkeley said HS2 stated that GC (continental gauge lines) were required all the way into Euston, but then “admitted that this was incorrect”; they also stated the Euston Express scheme was more expensive than HS2’s own scheme, but “then could not, and still cannot, substantiate this with any significant evidence”.

“For Euston Express there is more discussions to be had – with other parts of Network Rail, DfT and TfL since we do believe that a feasible scheme can be built and operated with much less aggravation and costing billions less than the 20 years’ construction nightmare that is the current HS2 proposal,” he said.

“Sadly, I conclude that the committee in many instances failed to give proper time to hearing evidence and challenging the promoter. Let us hope that the Lords select committee behaves better!”

Camden Council has also criticised HS2’s redesign plans for Euston, but managed to agree a major ‘package of assurances’ with the DfT in order to give it more of a say on works.

Comments

John   23/02/2016 at 14:19

It's all still a bit of a dog's dinner isn't it! Euston is still a Disaster, there's no link to HS1 and Europe and no one has thought of the East Midlands Airport Tunnel and the fact that there is to be an enormous "business park" right o nthe proposed route from the E Mids Tunnel and the climb over the M1 and the switchback descent through Redhill tunnel through demolished houses in Long Eaton to Toton.

Alan   23/02/2016 at 16:19

And not to mention the absurdity of having the Birmingham terminus at Curzon Street, separated from New Street/Snow Hill/Moor Street, away from the real centre of the city, and with a messy set of metro routes etc being concocted to provide links - instead of HST2 going underground as a New Street Low Level (thereby also allowing the existing platforms, largely forgotten in the project to build the super-expensive retail palace upstairs) to be improved.

Uncle Austin   23/02/2016 at 17:09

I see in the proposed plans, some nice Coffee shops ! So its not a total Dog's dinner.

GW   23/02/2016 at 17:34

Maybe Crossrail 2 should run from Old Oak Common to East Croydon and beyond to help ease pressure on Euston.

Sam Jones   23/02/2016 at 18:23

Ok, well I guess at least some people will be slightly happier now. But one thing I don't get is why no-one has talked about the impact of HS2 on the revenue and financial viability of the Intercity West Coast Franchise (currently operated by Virgin Trains). Once HS2 opens, what happens to it? The purpose of the Intercity West Coast Franchise is to provide relatively high speed rail services on the West Coast to destinations including Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh (although Intercity East Coast, with Virgin Trains East Coast, is the principle provider), Manchester and Chester. Sound familiar? All these stations (except Chester) will be provided with some form of service once Phase 2 of HS2 has opened in around 2033, with Birmingham even sooner than that in 2026. What happens to Intercity West Coast? There will now be faster services to these places than currently available, so there will be little reason for there to be high speed services along the West Coast Mainline. I'm expecting that the Intercity West Coast Franchise will be combined with the West Midlands Franchise (London Midland at the moment) with slower services provided along the West Coast Mainline to the same destinations, serving areas that HS2 wouldn't along the way. What do you all think about it?

Pdeaves   25/02/2016 at 14:22

More and more tunnel. There will be no reason for anyone to complain about the seats not lining up with the windows, because you can't see anything out of them anyway!

Robert   15/03/2016 at 12:58

Easy way to reduce costs; reduce the amount of tunnelling. This should be a project to be proud of, striding confidently across the landscape, not buried underground at any cost.

Geoff Kerr   19/11/2017 at 16:33

More tunnels in the Chilterns so the locals don't have their view spoilt, but knock down some new houses in South Yorkshire, after all, it's only Northerners who live there. The north-south divide lives on.

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