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Golf Juliet Tango
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That's a pretty devastating analysis.

The justification for HS2 has always been weak. The project was initiated a decade ago as a sop to environmentalists who were arguing against a third runway at Heathrow, and its supporters have consequently always struggled to provide a clear rationale for spending such a huge sum of money. Initially it was about cutting journey times, but then they decided it was about increasing capacity – despite the fact that there is plenty of space on trains running between London and the cities HS2 is meant to serve. Subsequently, attempts to sell it as a project that narrows the north-south divide have foundered on evidence from academics like Prof John Tomaney, at University College London, ... The idea that a slightly faster rail line would solve the north’s structural weaknesses has always been a tenuous one – especially if nothing is done to improve existing services.

Losing the environmental case is extraordinary.

Not only will there be widespread desecration in a swath of pristine countryside but HS2 Ltd itself admits that building the line will not reduce carbon emissions.

That the suggested economic case has fallen apart is salient too.

While originally there was the expectation that the line would generate £2 or even more for every £1 spent, the ratio now hovers around £1.30 for every £1, well below the threshold set by the Treasury.

 

Stephen

Democratic dissent is not disloyalty, it is a positive civic duty

TomB
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I'd like to pick this one up as someone who, until last week, was working on the ground conditions and environmental impact of Phase 2B: 

Losing the environmental case is extraordinary.

Not only will there be widespread desecration in a swath of pristine countryside but HS2 Ltd itself admits that building the line will not reduce carbon emissions.

The land is far from pristine in my part! A large proportion of the eastern P2B route is through the former Nottingham and Yorkshire coal fields, causing the problems cited with ground conditions.  Not only is the much of the shallow material mining related, but deeper down you have extensive mine workings.  In fact of the local planning officers said work to the effect that if its 'green' its probably been mined! The scheme isn't going through a National Park or the Cairngorms - to suggest it pristine virgin ground is garbage.  

The ground conditions in the eastern leg make it extremely difficult and expensive to build a highly settlement sensitive piece of infrastructure.  The line has to be formed on reinforced concrete slab to maintain the <2mm settle required to maintain >200mph, however these conditions cant be maintained without expensive ground improvement.  In the west the route has been varied to avoid the Cheshire brine field, but it this cant be done in the east to get out of the coal field.  In my view they should reduce the speed on the eastern leg and use a ballasted track that is more settlement tolerant and can be reballasted as settlement occurs.  But Im an environmental scientist not a rail engineer! 

 

 

Golf Juliet Tango
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The land is far from pristine in my part! A large proportion of the eastern P2B route is through the former Nottingham and Yorkshire coal fields, causing the problems cited with ground conditions. 

Tom - fair point - I live on the Herts Bucks border and the journalists live in London, so the Chiltern countryside is all that they see! (as I do)  The London-centric issues with HS2 go beyond the passenger movement.

Stephen

Democratic dissent is not disloyalty, it is a positive civic duty

Seabea23
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The data on tree loss over the route looks extensive. It is a sad fact that many of these threatened woodland locations which have quietly existed for hundreds, if not thousands of years are seen as sites of no value and removal as just collateral damage. We need new rail infrastructure but the issue of avoiding habitat destruction needs to be higher on the planning agenda.

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/protecting-trees-and-woods/campaign-with-us/hs2-rail-link/

TomB
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HS2 have committed to planting lots of trees - 7 million according to this press release.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/seven-million-trees-to-be-planted-as-part-of-hs2-first-phase

The obvious problem being that sampling can’t replace the embedded carbon and ecosystems that mature trees support. But in time, there would be more trees planted and growing than lost (assuming they get looked after, unlike an earlier batch of planting where they all died!). The fundamental problem is that for a high speed of 220-240mph to be maintained the route needs to be as straight as possible, with as few stops as possible. This means things such as ancient woodland, housing estates or some rural business can’t be avoided. The route planners have developed  a minimal impact route, while constrained by the brief for a 220-240mph railway. If it’s needed to have a more wobbly route, to go round certain features, it can’t go as fast.

I heard a very interesting nugget, that due to the very shallow radius curves required to keep it as straight and as fast as possible, to make a 100m deviation around a feature, the turn needed to start ~4 miles away, then a further 4 miles to return to the original line to the route. So the route, the land take, properties and woodland affected are a function of the proposed speed. Reduce the speed and you have more flexibility in routing. 

Derek Batty
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To be honest cannot se how they can justify ,, billions just to nock  a few hours of a train journey ,, im sure  the money would be better spent on the existing rail system ,,roads ,and homeless people NHS 

derek 

Jonathan Kay
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It is a sad fact that many of these threatened woodland locations which have quietly existed for hundreds, if not thousands of years are seen as sites of no value and removal as just collateral damage. We need new rail infrastructure but the issue of avoiding habitat destruction needs to be higher on the planning agenda.

Web discussions often get polarised. I'm in favour of a lot of high speed and better rail in the UK, I probably haven't emphasised often or strongly enough the value of our unbuilt environment and the importance of protecting it.

Jonathan

Colin Cooper
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Now retired I don't use the trains as much as i used to, but have a senior railcard and still travel by rail every couple of weeks.

Coming back from Portsmouth yesterday it was reported two trains were canceled as they had both separately caught fire. Signals were out on the Brighton - Portsmouth section causing delays and cancellations, and my local train (to Southampton) was delayed for 25 minutes due to another signal fault - this same fault was reported again on this mornings travel news. Tales like mine are now common place all over the country.

My vote would be to put HS2 on hold and spend the 100 billion on sorting out what we already have.

Col

 

 

Jonathan Kay
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I'd also like to see much greater reliability.

My vote would be to put HS2 on hold and spend the 100 billion on sorting out what we already have.

There isn't a pot of capital labelled "rail improvements". Similarly HS2 and NPR etc don't have to compete for capital. 

And unfortunately there isn't a national transport policy.

Jonathan

PS: Leaks of the latest review are suggesting support for Birmingham-London and another review of anything further north than that.

Jonathan Kay
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