HS2 Ltd has announced the publication of a series of new maps detailing an ‘optimised route’ along with a separate document entitled ‘Optimisation of Route 3’. The maps are on the DfT website, with a publication date of 14th September (currently at the end of the list).
The maps and accompanying document were produced by ARUP, a railway construction company who has recently told employees that whenever possible, they should avoid travelling to meetings. However the HS2 business case assumes that 146,000 people will use the new rail link ecery day: currently the West Coast Mainline only carries 45,000 per day.
The maps show realignment options in for the proposed railway line, as does the report. However, although the report is more than willing to mention what places the new alignment moves away from, HS2 is not so keen to point out the places it gets closer to.
Joe Rukin, one of the STOP HS2 lead campaigners told journalists “the new proposals do not make the business case any more realistic. They do not explain why, when online options are reducing the need for travel, that 101,000 extra people per day will get on a train, and they do not magic up an environmental case either. If the Government think that we are now going to start arguing amongst ourselves about which route is best, they are very much mistaken. We have studied the proposal in its entirety and whatever tinkering they do with the route, HS2 still has no business case, no environmental case, and there is no money to pay for it.”
The decision to publish the new proposals along with the original plans have drawn criticism from campaigners for increasing uncertainty and spreading property blight, as no final decision will be made until the public consultation in the new year. This means there are now three options for HS2 in some areas. This is especially hard to take as in August HS2 Ltd asked action group members to sign confidentiality agreements when attending meetings regarding routing. At the time (28th August), HS2 Ltd CEO Alison Munro told the Coventry Telegraph;
“We are currently looking at options for mitigating the impact of the route that we recommended, and it is important that any discussions about possible refinements to the route don’t cause further uncertainty which could impact on the property market.”
Rukin also said “there is now going to be more uncertainty for more people. The original plans were a rushed job and these ones have been even more of a rushed job. The maps are strewn with errors. There is no sign of which houses will have to be demolished. There is a distinct lack of road bridges and viaducts, which were in the original plans. One viaduct which seems to be over the A46 is labelled as crossing the River Sowe, whilst there are other cases of flood plain viaducts which appear to miss flood plains or seem to be at ground level. The new proposals may even be worse for the environment as they have dropped the railway lower down into flood plains but lowering the lines means it’ll take up more land as the original technical appendix stated there would be a 75 metre footprint where it is flat. It doesn’t seem that the maps represent this width, which is wider than a football pitch.”