The route chosen by the Government for High Speed 2 has been and will doubtless continue to be the subject of a nationwide debate for the next 20 years, so we take a look along the route. Rail.co.uk takes a look at the proposed route for HS2 and the implications.
Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport prefaced her HS2 statement by saying that “The consultation, High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain's Future was one of the largest national consultations ever undertaken by the Department for Transport.”
54,909 responses were received from across the spectrum from all over country and the consultation generated strong feelings. This is the most significant transport infrastructure project since the building of the motorways following in the footsteps of the 19th century railway pioneers laying the groundwork for long-term, sustainable economic growth.
Once completed, HS2 will bring Edinburgh and Glasgow within just 3 ½ hours from London and create more rail capacity on existing lines for freight removing lorries from busy roads.
A significant section of HS2 follows the little or long disused route of the last UK long distance main line to be built, the Great Central Railway. Significantly, HS2 will provide direct links to Heathrow Airport and the Continent via HS1 forming a foundation for a future wider high speed network.
The line will commence at a redeveloped Euston and run in a four mile tunnel to an interchange with Crossrail at Old Oak Common then runs virtually along the old Great Western route to Birmingham through Ruislip and then parallel with the former Metropolitan Line via Amersham and Little Missenden in a new longer, eight mile tunnel from to the M25 through the Chilterns nearly to Wendover. The line is carried over a flood plain west of Aylesbury on a viaduct and here is the official summary of the revised proposals:
• A new 2.75 mile (4.4 km) bored tunnel along the Northolt Corridor to entirely avoid major works to the Chilterns Line and impacts on local communities in the Ruislip area;
• A longer green tunnel past Chipping Warden and Aston Le Walls, and to curve the route to avoid a cluster of important heritage sites around Edgcote; and
• A longer green tunnel to significantly reduce impacts around Wendover, and an extension to the green tunnel at South Heath.
Beyond Aylesbury the route is open countryside and it will run alongside the former Great Central Railway northwards from Quainton to Calvert where the proposed HS2 maintenance depot will be located.
This section of line lost its passenger services in 1966 but remained open for waste traffic to Calvert landfill site. The line continues north via Finmere where a small preservation group has set up in recent years in the station yard area.
The line carries on north to a triangular junction near Coleshill Parkway station allowing services to run north and south from Curzon Street. After the triangle, HS2 is routed round Tamworth and just beyond Lichfield, will be connected into the West Coast Main Line.
Once the line is open, with a link to HS1 and the Channel Tunnel, it will be built and operated to European standards. This paves the way for German ICE trains and French TGVs to use HS2 on through services to Paris, Brussels and into central Europe.
Now how good would that be?