HS2 Update for June 2011

  |  Published: Jun 10th 2011

No HS2 across the Chilterns now on YouTube

This video has been put on to YouTube by Keith Hoffmeister, a member of the Chiltern Society.

Don't forget to have your say

Please take part in the Government's formal consultation about HS2. You can answer the seven consultation questions online at http://highspeedrail.dft.gov.uk/ or by obtaining a form from the HS2 order line, 0300 321 1010.

Copies of the questions are also held at Wendover's HS2 Information Centre, at 2 Icknield Court, Back Street, Wendover. The Information Centre is open from 10:00 to 16:00 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; or by arrangement on 07922 532598 or by emailing wendoverhs2@btinternet.com.

Wendover HS2's volunteers can advise you on completing the consultation questions, and further advice is also available online at http://www.wendoverhs2.org/hs2-consultation

This is your chance to make your feelings known about the proposals. The consultation will close on 29 July.

Letter to The Times from Andrew Walker

Proposed HS2 Link through the Chilterns

My wife and I relocated to Wendover 10 years ago. 45 years in the construction industry have led me through many of its diverse occupations in both the public and private sector, including design, planning and field work in the UK and overseas. I have experienced "both sides of the coin" in the construction arena, and witnessed first hand the high emotion that is engendered by proposals such as the HSL.

I wish to add my views and observations.

I do not want this in our back yard, and I am equally opposed to it going through anybody else's. I was disappointed to read David Whitaker's comment (Wendover News April 2010) "all parties are convinced that a high speed route is necessary". Why? Quoting from the Lib Dem's flyer through my door, Norman Baker MP – "High speed rail is hugely important, but it is only part of the 21st century rail network Britain needs. Our plans will re-open thousands of miles of track and make our railways great again". In a lesser part this may be the case, but I just cannot see the logistics of the greater part stacking up in practical terms.

"Re-open" intimates that these will run down the old axed Beeching routes of the 60's. Consider the enormous infrastructure connotations that involves, (and the cost!). Re-establishment of level crossings and associated structures at every twist and turn of the old lines. This would severely compromise the efficiency of thousands of roads as they exist today. (Heaven help us if he wishes to get over this problem by factoring in the cost of tunnels and bridges to alleviate any reduction in convenience).

Lord Adonis spoke to Andrew Marr on BBC television on Sunday several weeks ago. "The rest of Europe has a high speed network, and we need to upgrade to suit". Why? France and Spain have vast regions over which high speed rail travel is common sense, and the time saving advantageous for haulage of major commodities. Yes, we have the CTRL now running to London, but why extend the link further in the UK? Lord Adonis then went on to say the "the HSL will take more traditional routes" through Scotland. A low speed link? So the definitions "Site of Special Scientific Interest" and "Area of Extreme Natural Beauty" take on their proper weighting when we get to the Scottish border, and should not be tinkered with?

In the Times, Tuesday 15 March 2011 he harps on (and on), about the need for a high speed link to Birmingham and beyond to Manchester and Leeds. (Residents of those areas – prepare yourselves!) He flogs to death the reduced journey times that would ensue.

The article bears a footnote: "Andrew Adonis is Director of the Institute for Government. This is an extract from his lecture today to the Lunar Society, Birmingham".

Wishing to learn more I discovered that the Institute is "An independent charity with cross-party and Whitehall governance working to increase government effectiveness". It seems his views to those property owners' lives he will ruin if the HSL were to become reality offer not charity whatsoever. Lunar Men, (origins in the 18th Century), "gathered together for lively dinner conversations, the journey from Birmingham meeting place lit by the full moon". I will swiftly move on.

We cannot make our island bigger. We can make it better though. To this end I am strongly in favour of re-allocating some of this £34 billion budget to upgrade the present public transport infrastructure. Rail is essential for commodity movements on our tiny island as our roads constantly groan under the strain. Do the following and the customers will appear:
*Upgrade the existing main line rail network, including present branches, and old branch lines where feasible

*Upgrade passenger rolling stock
*Increase frequency of passenger trains
*Rejuvenate the whole system maintenance strategy
*Improve the present links between rail and road public transport
*Attract numbers with lower prices.

Choosing infrastructure upgrade, and dumping the HSL philosophy, we can spread new construction job opportunities throughout the whole of the country, further afield than the HS2 ever could.

I hear the cynics now, saying that my upgrade suggestions would cost hundreds of millions, and I have not thought through a cost plan. My home town of Hull suffers an ongoing debt from the construction of the Humber Bridge funded by Government loads. Nicknamed "a bridge to nowhere". Opened in 1981, the original £98 million cost when factoring in interest charges turned into a debt which was pegged at £435 million between 1992 and 1998. (Quote Riverhumber.co.uk). How novel it is that 30 years later Transport Minister Paul Clark has been reported as saying he will not pay off the bridge's present £350 million debt because "There were more pressing demands, such as train and bus fares and subsidies".

I proffer that the financial repercussions which are bound to happen in the wake of the £34 billion HSL will pour us all into a financial abyss dwarfing the Humber Bridge debacle.

High Speed communication in commerce and industry alike is already with us, electronic mail, conference calls and so on.

The "High Speed" Link is already dead in the water before the first turf has been dug.
Andrew R. Walker

Letter to The Daily Telegraph from Graham Jefford

Yesterday I attended the HS2 "Road show" which visited our town. This is an attempt by the DfT and HS2 to win over public support for its projected high speed rail route. That the organisers recognised just how contentious this issue is was born out by the presence of bouncers; clearly a vital component in today's democratic process.

The road show was clearly designed to overload the public with details intended to divert attention from the real debate, which we are being denied by a Government which knows it could not carry the day in a properly conducted public enquiry. The consultation questionnaire which we are being offered is full of heavily loaded questions designed to steer respondents towards agreeing with both the need for HS2 and with the proposed route. Furthermore we are being asked to believe that the results of the consultation, which apparently are to be collated and analysed by an independent company on behalf of the DfT and HS2 before being submitted to the Minister for Transport, will be openly and fairly addressed. We can all rest assured there then.

What is happening is a flagrant contravention of democratic principles and is to be abhorred. Whatever one's views on HS2 these events should be ringing alarm bells among all the electorate, not just those directly affected by HS2.

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