HS2 Update for July 2010

  |  Published: Jul 16th 2010

High-speed rail route to be reviewed

Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, has confirmed that he intends to review in detail the recommended route of HS2, the proposed high-speed rail line between London and Birmingham, before a public consultation takes place. The consultation, originally planned for autumn 2010, is now likely to take place in early 2011. Mr. Hammond has asked HS2 Ltd., the company charged with considering the case and route options for high-speed rail, to develop options for a direct high-speed link to Heathrow and to assess the options for linking HS2 to HS1, the Channel Tunnel rail link. In a separate development, the Chancellor, George Osborne, has ordered the Treasury to review all capital spending projects, including proposed transport programmes, with the intention that only those demonstrating a significant economic return to the country should be taken forward.

Rail Summit

Wendover HS2 participated in a summit on the economic arguments for and against high-speed rail in Aylesbury on 18 June. Campaigners and county and district councillors opposed to the current plans came together with rail and business experts to discuss the business case put forward by HS2 Ltd. for a high-speed line. A paper setting out alternatives to the current proposals was presented by the HS2 Action Alliance. John Savin from Wendover HS2's Business Working Group gave a presentation on 'Heathrow and the West London Connection', which you can download here (PDF file, 563KB). Wendover HS2's working groups are continuing to analyse the business case for the high-speed rail network, alternative routes and the environmental impact of the plans, and to work closely with other action groups in preparation for the formal consultation. We are seeking additional experts who can help us analyse the data. If you can help, please contact John Savin on 07774 831 967 or info@wendover-hs2.org.uk

Drop-in day

Wendover HS2 held a drop-in day at Wendover Library on 5 June for residents to see how HS2 would affect Wendover and the surrounding area. Members of the Strategic Committee, including local Councillors and Wendover Society members, were on hand to answer questions, and detailed maps of the route were on display. Maps and other material will be displayed in a case outside Wendover Library from mid-July.

Petition

Wendover HS2 plans to take its petition against the high-speed rail plans door-to-door over the coming weeks, to enable people who have not yet signed it to do so. It will then be presented at 10 Downing Street. If you could offer a few hours of your time to help collect signatures, please email Murray Cooke at wendoverHS2@btinternet.com.

EHS Consultation

The Government's consultation on a proposed Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) closed on 17 June. The Scheme proposes to protect the interests of residential owner-occupiers who may be affected by the preferred route and who can demonstrate that they have an urgent need to sell their property before the route is decided upon. Wendover HS2's response to the consultation can be seen here. Fundraising

We will shortly be launching a fundraising campaign to create a 'fighting fund' to oppose the current HS2 proposals. More details will be announced soon.

Market stall

Members of the Community Working Group will be manning a stall in the market in Wendover on Thursday 22 July to answer residents' questions about the HS2 proposals.

How you can help

If you feel strongly about plans to run the high-speed rail line through the Chilterns, please write to the Prime Minister and to Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA with your views. You may wish to ask them if they want to be remembered as the Government that destroyed the Chilterns for future generations, how we can afford to build the line, and what the implications are for other regions' transport plans if all the money gets diverted into HS2, or perhaps you would like to ask them for a full public inquiry into a project of this magnitude.

County Council stands strongly against high speed rail route

County councillors took a strong stand against the proposal to route Britain's second high speed rail line through Buckinghamshire and the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Find out more by following this link

Wendover HS2 (formerly WenSTAG) held a drop-in day at Wendover Library on 5 June to show how proposals for a new high-speed rail line through the Chilterns would affect us. Local Councillors, the Strategic Committee and Wendover Society members, were on hand to answer questions, and detailed route maps were on display. The event was very well attended: many residents were horrified to learn that the trains – up to 18 an hour in each direction – would pass non-stop along the edge of Wendover on a high embankment, and almost 400 people signed Wendover HS2's petition against the plans. For those unable to sign yet, Wendover HS2 will be taking the petition door-to-door over the coming weeks, before presenting it at 10 Downing Street. Wendover HS2 has also launched a website, where all the latest HS2 information can be found. Meanwhile, the technical work of analysing the business case for high-speed rail, alternative routes and the environmental impact of the proposals continues in preparation for the formal consultation, planned for the autumn.

Help Attack HS2 Now by John Savin

Wendover HS2, chaired by Marion Clayton, attacks the High Speed 2 proposals by assembling strong factual evidence and arguments to undermine the carefully crafted PR spin of the HS2 case. This is Wendover's first line of defence. Local activities are great, but will not get this grandiose scheme reappraised. Wendover needs a strong voice and must influence the national political debate about HS2, widely misunderstood as a "good thing", well before the consultation whitewash starts.

Our White Paper review shows that in 2007 the government rejected high speed as too costly, too unpredictable and too inflexible. So what changed? From freedom of information requests, we have the detailed HS2 calculations which claim to justify the project. These massive demand estimates are ultimately based on travel diaries that a few people kept back in 2006 plus an assumption of constant 2.75% economic growth for the next 23 years. A particular focus is coming to be the case for a Heathrow connection and the west London station. Even HS2 does not want to go to Heathrow as the demand is too low and it reduces the viability of its business case. If the line does not go to Heathrow, need it come through Wendover?

We need people willing to source, read, digest and analyse material on many topics, not just financial. Also to co-ordinate this major activity as we work closely with other groups. To defend Wendover now, contact 07774 831967 or info@wendoverhs2.org.uk.

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