Centro criticises HS2 plans

Centro has always been publicly support of HS2’s plans. But their official response to the Environmental Statement shows some serious unresolved concerns..

They say:

Interface with Birmingham New Street Station: Given the volume of people expected to interchange with Birmingham New Street station, it is disappointed to see the lack of provision or mitigating measures in place to ensure the quality of the environment and the time taken for the Curzon St – New St. interchange does not reduce the benefits to passengers of the faster journey via HS2. There is still no acknowledgement nor measurement in the ES of the interchanging time between Curzon St. and Birmingham New Street particularly for those with mobility difficulties, or heavy luggage, who may be unable to walk the significant distances between these important stations.

Interface with Moor St. Station: Design proposals for Curzon St Station confirm a “pedestrian link” between Curzon St. and Moor St. Stations. Centro feels the proposed “pedestrian link” does not meet our requirements for a world class interchange facility, fit for the 21st Century which is iconic and admired across the globe. …
Centro is still seeking clarification from HS2 Ltd on how the proposed “pedestrian link” became the optimal solution for providing a much needed interchange between High Speed Rail and the Classic Rail Network. Furthermore, the ES does not provide information on what would be the interchange time for rail passengers between the
two stations. …

Although the impression often portrayed by Centro is that they are in frequent contact with HS2 Ltd (most other organisations have criticised poor communications from HS2 Ltd), the Centro response says about the Birmingham Metro system:

However, in practice to date, progress on these discussions has been limited and HS2 has not been able provide any specific agreement in terms of funding, proximity and design of stops, impact on surrounding area, electromagnetic interference and revised transport assessments taking into account Centro’s Metro proposals.

Centro are concerned about the effects of construction on the bus network in Birmingham, saying “One of the most significant concerns on the construction phase in Birmingham is the closure of the Saltley Viaduct for a continuous period of 18 months”. They point out that this bridge is used by 78 buses an hour and they go on to say about the alternative

“Centro believe this is completely unacceptable and will provide an unsustainable solution for the duration of the construction period. The ES provides no support for public transport priority to ensure reliable bus services can be provided throughout construction, yet the ES does flag up the increased traffic queues and congestion as a result of the diversion.”

They also criticise HS2 Ltd’s assumptions about demand for busses after HS2 opens and the experience of pedestrians arriving on the HS2 trains and “the lack of mitigating measures to … accommodate the increase in pedestrians arising from HS2”.

They are critical of the People Mover plans at the Birmingham Interchange station.

Centro also criticise the HS2 plans in London saying:

IV. HS2 – HS1 Link

Centro is strongly supportive of a link between HS2 and HS1 but does not believe the
existing proposal for Phase 1 is adequate to meet potential service demand. Centro believes the Greengauge 21 proposal for a twin track tunnel option would best meet potential future demand for both national and international high speed rail services and safeguard for potential freight uses between HS1 and HS2 in the longer term permit.

V. HS2 Construction impact on London Euston

The ES indicates that the number of platforms at Euston are due to reduce from 18 to 13 in tandem with the construction of HS2, but it fails to articulate the impact this may have on the ability of Euston to accommodate existing and future demands on the WCML. Centro requests clarification on the impact of these changes and a commitment to minimise disruption on existing and future services operating on the WCML during the construction
period.

Finally, they say that if their concerns are unreserved they may petition Parliament after the second reading.

When even HS2 Ltd’s ‘friends’ are threatening to petition the plans, is HS2 in even more trouble?

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