High Speed Rail Link Consultation Period

A public consultation about the proposed high speed rail link from Birmingham to London has begun. It will continue until July 29th 2011. The government has a travelling roadshow which is being taken along the 140 mile proposed route, visiting the places which will be affected by the new rail service, as well as certain other major UK cities.

If the plan is approved, work will begin in 2015, and will cost an estimated £17bn. Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, said the high-speed line (HS2) would mean a boost for the UK economy of £44bn, and create 8,000 jobs in its construction. Phase One is due to be completed by 2026.

There are plans to extend the link to Manchester and Leeds (Phase Two) at a cost of £32bn. The completion for this phase is expected to be 2032/33.

The new service will make the journey time between London and Birmingham less than 50 minutes. There are expected to be at least 14 trains running every hour, each with as many as 1,100 seats.

Philip Hammond, speaking at a conference in Birmingham, said that other countries were already expanding their rail networks to include high speed trains, and added “We cannot afford to be left behind – investing in high-speed rail now is vital to the prosperity of future generations.”

Opponents say that no alternatives to this route are being offered, and it is a very expensive project at a time when money is in short supply. It will also adversely affect a large area of rural countryside.

Proponents say that the existing rail network is insufficient for future needs, and we must invest now for future users.

Residents of the locations along the route are getting the chance to hear what the trains will sound like, using a simulation based on recordings of existing trains and high-speed trains running in France. Having listened to it himself at the Roadshow at the Thames, Mr Hammond said “Unless you are listening for it, you can hardly hear the noise of the train against the background noises.”  As one cynic commented “he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

Should the proposal be approved by the Government and be given their full support, with full Compulsory Purchase and Compensation Legislation ratified, there will undoubtedly be professional work for Solicitors and Valuers along its path in addition to the many contractors and sub-contractors who will carry out the actual physical work of construction.

31st March 2011