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More HS2 tunnelling is ‘unaffordable’ – and ‘cheaper’

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This afternoon Britain’s transport secretary, Justine Greening, told Parliament that the government intended to go ahead with the HS2 railway between Birmingham and London, but with a further round of ‘mitigation’ measures (improvements to the compensation arrangements, more sections in tunnel, etc).

[…] People living along the line of route highlighted particular concerns and provided constructive and thoughtful comments about the London to West Midlands route proposed at consultation. Following careful study by my engineers I can announce a package of alterations to further reduce the route’s impacts. The changes mean that more than half the route will now be mitigated by tunnel or cutting and there will also be a reduction in the impacts on people and communities, ancient woodlands and important heritage sites.

The changes include:

* A longer, continuous tunnel from Little Missenden to the M25 through the Chilterns;

* 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.

* The revised route offers considerable improvements to communities, with the number of dwellings at risk of land take almost halving and the number experiencing increased noise levels reducing by a third. Despite these improvements to limit the negative impacts of the line, HS2 will inevitably affect some homeowners, communities and businesses. To help those affected, we will bring in a package of measures, which are over and above what affected homeowners are already entitled to under law. These include:

* A streamlined purchase scheme to simplify the statutory blight process for property owners;

* A sale and rent back scheme to give homeowners within the safeguarded area more flexibility;

* A streamlined small claims scheme for construction damage which will allow individuals and businesses who are entitled to compensation under existing law to claim it more quickly and simply;

* A package of measures to reinforce confidence in properties above tunnels. Homeowners will be offered before and after surveys, a thorough assessment of the impact of similar tunnels, an explanation of the measures that will be taken to prevent perceptible vibration impacts, financial compensation for the compulsory purchase of subsoil, and a legally binding promise that HS2 will be permanently responsible for resolving any related settlement or subsidence issues; and,

* A refreshed hardship-based property purchase scheme.

Finally, we will work constructively with local authorities along the line of route to minimise the negative consequences of HS2 and maximise the benefits.
[…]

Ms Greening then answered some questions from MPs, telling Steve Baker that tunnelling the entire section under the Chilterns had been rejected because it would have cost over £1.2 billion extra, and was “unaffordable”. A little later, she told Jonathan Edwards that the additional Chiltern tunnelling that had been included would ‘save between £250 million and £300 million‘ over what had been previously planned.

Go figure. Apparently in concert with the announcement, the Department for Transport released a number of documents, including Network Rail’s so-called ‘Review of strategic alternatives‘ (mentioned earlier), Updated appraisal of transport user benefits and wider economic benefits, The Government’s Decisions, and yet another set of revised route maps.

Ms Greening was keen to stress the economic development benefits of high speed rail. So with a multi-billion euro investment in its AVE network, one might expect Spain’s regions to be reaping enormous benefits. However, things don’t seem to have worked out that way. A year ago, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that

Spain’s bet on high-speed rail is “the other face of the property bubble” which fuelled economic growth in Spain for over a decade before it burst, said Ramon Lopez de Lucio, a professor at the Architecture School of Madrid.

“That a country like Spain has more kilometres of AVE than any other nation aside from China makes no sense,” he said, arguing that the Spanish government was over investing in infrastructure.

Spain invested an amount equal to 1.79 per cent of its gross domestic product in infrastructure in 2009, three times the amount invested by Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

“We have built highways with very limited traffic and in the case of the Madrid-Valencia AVE, we added 100 kilometres so it would go through Cuenca and Albacete, to serve 100 passengers per day,” said Lopez de Lucio.

The money would have been better employed in making improvements to the suburban train service or the rail freight network or in education and research, he said.
[…]
“The cumulative investment in AVE in 2010 approaches 45 billion euros,” said economist Germa Bel of the University of Barcelona.

When this “impressive” amount of investment is taken into account, “the total passenger traffic is very weak”, she said.

Written by beleben

January 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm

One Response

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  1. Quote
    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

    Subsequently, in 2013, the new length of tunnel added at Northolt was 9km.

    http://www.hs2.org.uk/press/hs2-ltd-recommends-tunnel-under-ealing-and-northolt

    There is no end to this project creep.

    johnma

    November 24, 2014 at 3:25 pm


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