Today, HS2 Ltd got round to publishing their Colne Valley viaduct specimen design. This is not the actual design, but a document detailing “design-approach behind the viaduct.” Anyone wanting to know what it will actually look like will have to wait.
HS2 Ltd caused outrage on twitter for thanking the “local community” for their input: the MP for the area , local groups and residents pointed out that the designs are being shown for the first time today and that they have not been consulted. These tweets by HS2 Ltd have now been deleted.
What’s more, the design document itself is hardly any better.
Take noise barriers: you might think that reducing noise for the local area is the most important function of noise barriers. But the very first paragraph mentioning them is all about the views for the passengers:their effectiveness seems very much an afterthought.
“Having just exited a tunnel, the CVV offers an exciting opportunity to provide dramatic, open views to passengers on the rail, allowing the diverse changes in the landscape to be perceived. Across the route, these elevated vantage points are relatively rare and great care must be taken to not unnecessarily obstruct them with noise barriers. The location, height and design of the barriers must seek to combine functional performance with transparency; to reduce noise whilst maximising views.”
Similarly local concerns about the gantrys are ignored. Referred to in most of the documents as OLE posts (a much prettier name for “Overhead Line Equipment”), the documents leaves it up to others to design them.
The only detailed picture of the gantries is the view from the train, with the caption helpfully pointing out that for the passengers travelling at 340kph “motion blur makes the vertical elements of the edge condition almost completely invisible, achieving an unobstructed view of the Colne Valley.” Interestingly, there is no water in the view from the train, just a green blur. There is no acknowledgement for people outside the train, the gantries could be ugly and prominent, a problem which has afflicted other rail schemes in England.