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Tory MPs propose major changes to HS2 station in Birmingham

Tory MPs propose major changes to HS2 station in Birmingham

🕔04.Nov 2013

The planning of HS2 is too important to be left solely to the railway industry and work carried out so far risks choosing the wrong route, according to a report by an influential group of Tory MPs.

Research by the Bow Group warns the Government is in danger of making a mistake by not linking HS2 directly to Heathrow Airport, and also calls for major changes to the new Curzon Street station planned for Birmingham city centre.

The report suggests turning Curzon Street into a through station, rather than a terminus, enabling trains from the south-west of England and from Wolverhampton to link directly into the high speed network.

Bow Group member Lord Heseltine warns in an introduction to the report against repeating mistakes that occurred  in the initial planning stage of the first high speed rail link between the Channel Tunnel and London, which he said displayed a “lack of imagination” by British Rail.

The route was changed after intervention by Lord Heseltine, the Environment Secretary, who insisted it should run through “declining industrial marshlands along the Thames Estuary” in an effort to trigger regeneration.

Lord Heseltine states in the Bow Group report: “The route chosen for HS2 between London, Birmingham and onwards must not be just left to the rail industry, though their expertise and opinion is important.

“Many other considerations must be taken into account such as how best can we move people from air to rail, how best can HS2 help regenerate the great cities of Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and on into Scotland, how can it deliver a genuine integrated transport strategy and how can it help us meet our binding environmental targets on carbon emissions?”

The report reaches the following conclusions:

  • The Government risks choosing the wrong route HS2.
  • HS2 should be directly linked to Heathrow Airport through the construction of a Heathrow hub interchange station combining HS2, the Great Western Main Line, Chiltern Line and Crossrail services.
  • Without direct HSR connection to Heathrow traffic congestion and pollution around the airport and the M25 will continue to be amongst the worst in Europe.
  • A non-direct HSR link with Heathrow, represented by a loop or spur, would represent folly in Britain’s ambition to develop a truly integrated transport policy.
  • A successful national high speed rail network should directly connect all major airports and cities as is successfully reflected in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
  • The north-south divide can be bridged by a successful HSR network as it will better bind and co-ordinate economic progress.

The report warns against focusing HS2 solely on major cities, adding that the route should support economic benefits to a wide spread of communities.

A far more ambitious approach is called for: “The Bow Group believes high speed rail plans should not be optimised just to provide quicker journeys and higher frequencies into central London, important though this is.

“The plans should recognise the benefits that can arise for non-London rail journeys, air to rail and car to rail mode switch, direct and highly attractive accessibility to principal airports and continental Europe.

“The form of the final high speed network should support economic benefits to a wide spread of communities, including many of them suburban and dispersed in nature, in England, Scotland and Wales, as opposed to an approach that would focus benefits on a limited number of major cities.

“The Conservative vision is clear: Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and London should be linked in a first stage, also connecting in Heathrow, but recognising that it is only a first stage of a programme that brings in other cities.”

The report calls for a national network of high speed lines, including:

  • A line between London, Heathrow, the West Midlands, North West England and Scotland;
  • A separate line from London to the East Midlands, Yorkshire and North East England;
  • Fast connecting routes from the Birmingham airport area to Sheffield, from Manchester to Leeds and between Edinburgh and Glasgow;
  • Ability for cross country and regional trains to make use of sections of the network – for example from Bristol, the south of England and the Thames Valley to call at a main station in Birmingham and continue north to Manchester, Scotland, Yorkshire and the North East.

The report continues: “High speed access to parts of the East Midlands and Sheffield could be gained early by through running from the new West Midlands high speed line near Birmingham airport over electrified sections of the conventional main line network.”

A section dealing with the HS2 line as it enters Birmingham calls for significant changes to the proposed Curzon Street station: “To ensure the new high speed network can sustain an excellent range of services, a Conservative government should call for options for two stations in Birmingham.

“A ‘through’ city centre station and a multi-modal interchange and parkway station on a Birmingham bypass line, at Birmingham Airport.

“This arrangement would allow fast services from London to Manchester and beyond to bypass central Birmingham. Wolverhampton would be served by high speed rail improving access to high speed services for more areas of the West Midlands, Shropshire and central Wales.

“It would also permit trains from the existing main lines from the south and south west to call at the Birmingham city centre high speed station and continue then on to the high speed line to the North West/Manchester, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.”

 

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