London-to-Birmingham high speed train route announced

20.12.2010 (BBC)

The planned route of the high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham has been
altered after protests about its impact on homes and the countryside.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed the government broadly agreed with
the chosen HS2 rail route.  
But he said 50% of the preferred route published in March had been amended.

He said there would be compensation for those whose homes had to be destroyed
to create the line and also for those whose homes were set to lose value.

Journey times

The £33bn rail link proposals were announced by the last government in March
and the coalition has been examining the plans.

Trains would travel at more than 200mph, cutting journey times between the cities
by about 30 minutes.

The plans will be put out for consultation next year and Mr Hammond said it would
be “one of the biggest and most wide-ranging ever undertaken by government”.

Mr Hammond insisted the scheme would help tackle the north-south divide by slashing
travelling times to and from the capital.

He said the planned route had been altered to deal with serious concerns about
its impact on local communities and countryside.

The line will start at a redeveloped Euston station in central London and terminate
at a new station at Curzon Street/Fazeley Street in Birmingham’s Eastside regeneration
area. HS2 will join the West Coast Main Line near Lichfield.

Property values

In a statement to the Commons, he said: “I am confident that solutions have now been found which can significantly
mitigate the impacts of the railway at local level which, when properly understood,
will reassure many of those who have been understandably apprehensive about the
potential impact on their lives and their property values.

“But despite our best efforts at mitigation, we will not be able to avoid all
impacts on property values.

“I have asked my officials to prepare a range of options for a scheme to assist
those whose properties would not be required for the construction of the railway,
but who would nonetheless see a significant diminution of value as a result of
the construction of the line.”

Mr Hammond said a spur line to Heathrow airport would not be part of the London-Birmingham
stage of the project, but would be included in the second phase that will also
see extensions to Manchester and Leeds.

Amendments to the route include:

  • Primrose Hill, north London – moving a tunnel 100 metres further north and making
    it deeper under ground
  • Northolt, west London – line moved further away from housing
  • Old Amersham to Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire – creation of a 150-metre bridge
    over a cutting to reduce its visual impact and avoid severing a public right of
  • Hartwell House, Buckinghamshire – line moved further away from a historic house
  • Lichfield, Staffordshire – line moved meaning it would join the West Coast Main
    Line further north.

Mr Hammond said public consultation on the proposals was likely to start in February

A number of Conservative MPs have expressed concerns about the rail link, which
passes through Tory heartlands, including the Chesham and Amersham constituency
of Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan.

Map of rail link

Under proposed changes to the route between Amersham and Wendover in Buckinghamshire,
Mr Hammond said there were opportunities for a “green bridge” over the cutting
and a longer “green tunnel”.

‘Wrong priority’

Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle said Mr Hammond was likely to face more
opposition from within his own party than from Labour MPs.

“I suspect that he’s got more support on this side of the House than on the benches
behind him,” she said.

“No doubt he’ll find out in due course if he’s done enough today to persuade
the Secretary of State for Wales not to resign in protest at his plans.”

TransportSense, which represents more than 50 local community groups opposed
to HS2, said: “This project is the wrong priority for Britain.

“When we can’t afford planes for an aircraft carrier, we are seeing cuts across
local government and we’re expecting students to run up thousands of pounds of
debt, our politicians want to spend billions of our money on a rail link that
will shave just 30 minutes off a trip from London to Birmingham.”

The CBI said the project had the “potential to deliver real economic and environmental
benefits” and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it would have “an
enormous impact on connectivity between the UK’s major cities”.

Rail watchdog Passenger Focus said: “Wherever this new line is built, there will
be winners and losers.

“It is important that the government and industry continues to discuss the implications
of this decision with affected communities and addresses concerns.”






see also

Monday, February 15, 2010
A new study has suggested that investing in high-speed rail can bring various
benefits, but should not be marketed as a major part of efforts to combat climate
change. The study,
‘The Future of Interurban Passenger Transport’ (27 pages) by the Swedish transport economist Per KÃ¥geson, calculates the effect
on emissions from building a new high speed line connecting two major cities 500
kilometres apart. It says there is no reason to prohibit investment in high-speed
rail on environmental grounds as long as the carbon gains outweigh the emissions
during construction, but the greenhouse gas savings are sufficiently small that
it would be wrong to justify such investment as a solution to climate change.    
It states:


Many governments in different parts of the world are investing in high speed
rail. Some of them do so thinking that it will be an important part of climate
change mitigation. Intercity traffic over medium distances is particularly interesting
in the environmental context as it constitutes the only transport segment where
aircraft, trains, coaches and cars naturally compete for market shares.

This report calculates the effect on emissions from building a new high speed
link that connects two major cities located 500 km apart. It assumes that emissions
from new vehicles and aircraft in 2025 can be used as a proxy for the emissions
during a 50 year investment depreciation period. The emissions from the marginal
production of electricity, used by rail and electric vehicles, are estimated to
amount on average to 530 gram per kWh for the entire period. Fuels used by road
vehicles are assumed to be on average 80 percent fossil and 20 per cent renewable
(with a 65% carbon efficiency in the latter case).

Traffic on the new line after a few years is assumed to consist to 20 per cent
of journeys diverted from aviation, 20 per cent diverted from cars, 5 per cent
from long-distance coaches, and 30 per cent from pre-existing trains. The remaining
25 per cent is new generated traffic. Under these assumptions would the investment
result in a net reduction of CO2-emissions of about 9,000 tons per one million
one-way trips. Assuming 10 million single journeys per year, the total reduction
would be 90,000 tons.

When the price of CO2 is $40 per ton, the socio-economic benefit of the reduction
would amount to $3.6 million, which is very little in the context of high speed
rail. The sensitivity analysis shows that alternative assumptions do not significantly
change the outcome. One may also have to consider the impact on climate change
from building the new line. Construction emissions for a line of this length may
amount to several million tons of CO2

There is no cause to prohibit investment in high speed rail on environmental
grounds so long as the carbon gains made in traffic balances the emissions caused
during construction. However, marketing high speed rail as a part of the solution
to climate change is clearly wrong. Investment in infrastructure for modal shift
should only be considered when traffic volumes are high enough to carry the cost.
The principal benefits of high speed rail are time savings, additional capacity
and generated traffic, not a reduction of greenhouse gases.







see also


Fast Train to Nowhere? – George Monbiot questions the case for high speed rail