Civic Voice trip to HS1

On Friday, a couple of Stop HS2 supporters went on a trip to Kent to see HS1.  The trip was organised by Civic Voice: Alison Munro and  other senior HS2 board members were on the tour as well.

The general impression of HS1 was the same as from the tour with Bucks CC last year.  For a lot of the distance it’s next to busy motorways and dual carriageways, the trains are less frequent and slower then the HS2 trains will be.

This impression is born put by the statistics we were given:  85% of the HS1 route is in tunnels or along existing rail or road transport corridors.  The roads, we were told, were motorways or trunk roads.  Roughly half the rest of the route was through industrial areas such as where we came out of tunnel near Dagenham dock.  North Kent, we were told, is an industrial area – very unlike North Buckinghamshire which is farmland, but has the planned route of HS2 running through it.

There were fewer trains then there will be with HS2.  HS2 is being planned on the expectation that there will be 18 trains per hour in each direction.  If they run this many trains, in a 15 minute period you could expect to see nine or ten trains pass a particular spot.

However during the trip to HS1 we stopped at vantage points near the railway for 15 to 20 minutes each time.  Each time we counted the trains – typically at these stops no more then two train went past, with a maximum of three.  So HS1 has less then a third of the trains planned for HS2.

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40 comments to “Civic Voice trip to HS1”
  1. Andrew re your words “Woodland trust identify 21 ancient woods affected by the route of HS2 from London to Birmingham. I presume you understand that ‘historic’ cannot be replaced, only lost”
    The word seems to be ‘affected’ not lost. I presume this impact on woodlands is to avoid people, communities and homes.

  2. P.S. No reassurances have been given on the impact of vibration on nearby properties.ARUP engineer told me that Hs and freight couldn’t mix,but this is clearly not the case if DB are allowed to run on HS1.He said the spare capacity on WCML would be used!However,night freight hasn’t been ruled out.We were originally told (and this was on HS2 website) trains would run from 6.20 a.m. to 11.40 p.m.This was flatly contradicted at the Greenford Exhibition.”Oh no…6 o’clock to midnight”.Mixed messages.Of course it’s all speculation at the moment,but I wish they could be better briefed and sing from the same hymnsheet.

    • Yes, I went to the HS2 Wendover event at weekend. I must admit I went in thinking the very worst after all the stuff I’ve seen and heard locally over the past year or so.
      I must say though I came away from the event feeling very re-assured after speaking to the HS2 people …especially on the broad issues of the need and for a new railway line and the potential noise, landscape and wildlife impacts. I was even suprised by their detailed local knowledge. Very impressive.
      I’m afraid I am fairly new to visiting this site and I find much of the stuff you guys keep going on about very misleading and with no real basis.

      I’ve also just visited the Say Yes HS2 site and admit that I did laugh out load when I read:

      “If the case against HS2 is so strong why do critics feel that they need to make exaggerated and misleading claims? Surely the evidence should speak for it self?”

      Sorry

  3. Of course trees would have to be cut down, if only to allow for construction and related movements.
    HS2 Ltd orriginally said there would have to be a 25m veg free zone on either side. They have since realised this would be gross and they have re-thought it. They could put a black matting type of material on the sides which would allow for some limited veg to grow through,but not trees. The trees they would plan on planting are for visual mitigation and would help sound mitigation.

    Regarding the bunding using spoil, they would have to use as much spoil as they can. Legislation will dictate this. The big problem they have is, they would need ‘engineering soil’ for bunding. I don’t profess to know what that means apart from the fact a great deal of the spoil would not qualify as ‘engineering soil’.

    • Yes, I had this confirmed by HS2 on saturday. It is basically a slim zone alongside the track in which larger woody vegetation is controlled. So clearly good for creating a good zone of the chalk grassland and flowers that the chilterns is renowned for.

  4. So what were the sound levels like? I’ve seen TV clips of people in villages along the route having to cover their ears when someone played what a train would apparently sound like through a PA right next to them. And your former chairman seems to think it’ll be like the end of the world:

    It’s going through countryside in some of the quietest areas of the country and bringing in one of the loudest industrial noises. With 28 of these high speed trains every hour it’s going to make people’s lives absolute hell.

    http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventrytimes/2011/02/16/red-signal-over-hs2-sound-protest-92746-28180384/28180384

    So how was it?

    • No offers? Can I then assume all the hoo-hah about the actual visual and audio impact being “hell” and “armageddon” that’s been made about HSR has been a tad exaggerated?

    • We saw several javelin trains (Kent local) but there were only 1 or 2 HS1 trains. Of course they’ve had to take them off due to lack of demand!!! The Javelins are quieter because they don’t go as fast as HS1 which in turn are much slower and hence quieter than the proposed HS2.
      Standing on bridges between motorway and a passing javelins, the javelin was louder than the motorway. The comparison doesn’t really come into it as the proposed HS2 route doesn’t follow a motorway. The comparison only means anything if people have only heard m road traffic noise.

      • Well that doesn’t sound quite like the apocalyptic vision of it that Stop HS2 have been peddling for months. That’s a relief. Tried Googling about Eurostar services being cut, but couldn’t find anything. If you stick “eurostar passenger numbers” into Google news, you just get a ton of stuff about rising demand.

        Just curious – we’ve all heard what the government is proposing are the benefits of HS2. They are pretty substantial and very important. Now, you can argue against this with claims of the demand/business case/cost benefit ratio being wrong or whatever, and that’s fine, but has there ever come a point where you’ve thought, “Hmmm, perhaps trying to argue against the proposed creation of thousands of jobs and a better tranpsort system for millions for generations to come, simply by saying we’ve seen HS1 and we don’t like the look of it”, is maybe just a tincy-wincy bit selfish?

        • Rich (11 May, 10.36pm comment). That’s not what we are doing so I think the answer is “not applicable”

          • In which case you have me at a loss. What exactly was the purpose of this visit to HS1, if it wasn’t to see what it sounds and looks like?

            • As I understand it the point being made is that HS2 is being opposed not because it will be even noisier and unpleasant than HS1, but because it is a great big waste of money – an inefficient way of creating some jobs (and mostly in London), a very expensive way of adding some more capacity to one part of the train network, and something making no positive contribution to the environmental and energy issues that are facing the world of the future. Given that everyone is paying for this It is the few that will benefit that are being selfish – have you ever come to a point where you’ve thought “Hmmm, maybe these NBR numbers really are based on a mixture of lies and optimism, and maybe we should not burden our future generations with a pile of every increasing debt for the gratification of a few politicians and rail industry moguls”?

            • Part of the reason was to see the area through which HS1 was built. It is frequently said by people who support HS2 that HS1 wasn’t so bad: but when you compare the “transport corridors” on the HS2 route to the transport corridors on the HS1 route, they are quite different in for instance width of road (eg motorway in Kent v single carriageway road in Buckinghamshire) and existing noise levels.

              Another reason for going was to get a guided tour by one of the people involved in building it – the statistics about the route came from him.

            • @Andrew (random reply buttons)

              but because it is a great big waste of money – an inefficient way of creating some jobs…

              That’s great Andrew, but the question I asked was, what was the visit to HS1 for? I didn’t say, “could someone please read out the gospel of HS2 according to some people who are trying to mask concern about their house prices with concern about the viability of HS2”? Thanks for that anyway.

              Have you ever come to a point where you’ve thought “Hmmm, maybe these NBR numbers…

              To be honest, no, I haven’t, largely because it’s a line from the mouths of biased people who live along the route, with access to Google. I do often think though, “Hmmm, I hope HS2 gets built as soon as possible.”

  5. Please don’t forget also that in some places “existing rail corridors” are very quiet, green and pleasant places to live. In Ruislip where they are basically trying to shoe horn HS2 between the existing Chiltern Line and our garden fences it is very peaceful with trees (which they would have to chop down) between us and the line. HS2 are keen to write us off as living near trains already but this is of course a whole different ball game!!

    So another whole stretch of the route is quiet residential suburbs which HS2 dismiss as existing rail corridor.

    • Absolutely.This line has declined since the 1960’s when it had hourly expresses to Snow Hill,Wolverhampton,and occasionally Wales.Plus freight and the Royal Mail.Since the demise of steam(where sparks could have started embankment fires) it’s become a green corridor,and home to many birds and wildlife among the oaks,wild cherry,hawthorn,blackthorn and other beautiful trees.An existing rail corridor,certainly,but with a radical change of use,hence the need for Parliament’s approval. HS2 Ltd originally proposed wide no-vegetation zones,but an ARUP engineer at the Shepherd’s Bush roadshow seemed to think that after construction,shrubs could be planted.Who knows?

  6. Currently on the WCML, between Tring and London, there are 15 trains per hour each way. with 1 spare path which is likely to be taken up in 2012. This section is also 4 tracked to allow for the mixed use of the line ( Long distance and local journeys ).

    HS2 is twin tracked , dedicated to long distance, has almost no junctions, the ones that will be built are grade separated. There will be no lineside signals as well…..

    HS1 has recieved track applications from a number of parties, most notably D Bahn, who intend to run services from London to Germany. This was actually dependent on the rolling stock passing Tunnel fire regs, which it now has. Also, some of the BR locomotives have now been converted to in cab signalling, which allows them to operate intermodal freight trains on the CTRL. Expect to see more traffic on HS1 in the future….

    • I think Penny’s point was that there will be far more trains on HS2 than currently run on HS1 and therefore the noise impact will be much more significant. It follows that pointing to HS1 (as it currently is) as an example of the limited environmental impact of HS2 (as some have done) is potentially misleading.

      Your comment would seem to be more relevant to the question of whether HS1 is (or will be) an economic success from a usage standpoint.

      Apologies to Penny if I have misunderstood.

      • david ….from a noise viewpoint, I ve no doubt there will be an increase, though of course there will be mitigating measures. In general though, that is always going to be an issue whether it be a new rail line, airport runway or motorway…..indeed that reared its head up here in Manchester when the M60 extension was built a few year ago. A somewhat odd scenario occured as well with our local rail line which happens to be the main transpennine link. A local property developer built a small estate of around 25 houses on rail land right next to this link. Its has become a very popular place to live because of the access to the station literally across the road despite the noise.

        • I agree it is not unique to HS2 (or rail). I am questioning the comparison with HS1 – the A413 is not a motorway, HS2 will be far busier than HS1 and the impact of faster trains will also have a negative impact in terms of noise. Its very difficult to assess the impact of mitigation at this point and I suspect there will be some very difficult trade-offs between cost, noise, land take etc

          Unfortunately, I don’t think the 25 house example will be relevant to HS2 given the absence of stops between Bimingham and London

          • David …the point I was making about the 25 house example was the fact that people chose to live there despite the obvious noise from what is a main artery across the pennines…..from diesel trains I hasten to add. The station itself is not part of that link, its commuter stop only.

            I kind of wonder if the Chiltern area DID get a parkway stop on HS2 …. would that change the mindset of the opposition to this ?

            • If HS2 gets built then 30 years from now then the nimby problem will go away as it will be in the backyard and new residents will have the choice to live near the track or not. Until then the fact that some people choose to live near a station or in a city, or anywhere they like is quite irrelevant to the effects of HS2 on existing residents.

              There are no plans for any stops between OOC and International, and even if there were you would still be taking away the element of choice from those affected so nothing would change. And be aware that those people who value a garden, access to footpaths and countryside, etc will be aware that there is no mitigation in the world that will make a train disappear acoustically when drinking Pimms in the back garden (unless you are proposing the whole route in a tunnel?)

              Let’s not forget though that HS2 should not be stopped because of nimbys, but because it not value for money, not contributing to the environment, and not rebalancing the economy.

            • So the fact that someone enjoys drinking a Pimms in the back garden is a good enough reason not to build a rail line nearby which will have a dramatic effect on the capacity issues facing our network ??.

              You also dont know that its not value for money….in fact it is almost impossible to quantify whether it is or not. As was pointed out, ” if we applied financial accounting principles to government spending, then nothing would get built”.

            • Hi Gary,

              Come and enjoy a Pimms while you can. I specifically said that it should not be stopped because of any local opposition, note however that the disbenefits to these people (and the environment etc) should be included in the calculations not brushed aside.

              Things should be built because they are the best solution to a genuine need. On your admission that it is almost impossible to quantify the value for money of HS2 I would suggest that solving immediate needs cheaply (AKA RP2) is a better way forward than making very expensive assumptions (AKA HS2).

            • Not a Pimms drinker Im afraid Andrew…..

              The genuine need is the lack of capacity on our network…..you guys have already agreed that.

              Do you think that the M40 has been value for money ?

            • The former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne on leaving office left a note for David Laws stating sorry there is no money left. The coaltion are telling the people of the country we are in grave economic times and we need to take drastic cuts. Guess where the cuts fall – oh yes with the elderly, nhs, disabled and vulnerable to society, low paid workers etc. But we need HS2 at a cost of billions – answer the question who is going to afford to use this waste of money. Stop calling those against it nimbys and stop talking economic mumbo jumbo.

            • But capacity can be solved by other means than HS2.

              I’m not sure why you think questions about the M40 are relevant? No one would suggest building another motorway as an alternative to HS2.

            • Most questions about the M40 will be irrelevant on this site. We’ve had to delete some other people’s comments already.

            • Hi Gary,

              The M40 can be used to go from Birmingham to London as can HS2 – I think this is about the only similarity. The motorway can also be used in sections (e.g. by people going to Oxford, Banbury, even Southampton) and indeed was built in sections (not an all or nothing proposition). There were complaints at the route, and indeed this was modified – a motorway is capable of bends and really can avoid a lot of trouble. A motorway can be used by all sorts of vehicles for all sorts of things. A motorway can link into the existing road network and does not require people to change vehicles to get to their final destination. A motorway is not a good way to get to a city centre. A HS train is not a good way to get to suburbs, factories, out of town shopping empires or to go camping.

              Value for money – I don’t know. A simple calculation on the basis of UK average flow and UK average construction cost indicates to me that a motorway that serves a need will pay for itself purely from the taxes on fuel used in 10 years or less (I’m no expert here so do your own calculation if you care) No need to invoke nebulous values of time savings, wider economic benefits, or indeed taxpayer subsidy. Of course a motorway with fewer users than promised will still lose money – so that is one other similarity to rail projects.

              What have we determined in this whole sub-thread? That a motorway is not the same thing as a railway, that the M40 has nothing to bring to the justification or otherwise of HS2, and that another motorway will never get built instead of HS2. Let’s go back to discussing real issues please. (Personally I shall henceforth ignore all posts containing the characters ‘M40’!)

    • GOOD NEWS on this point

      Talking with the senior engineer at the Aylesbury Exhibition today, I established that the THREAT of a TWENTY FIVE METRE “VEGETATION FREE ZONE each side of the track bed is NO MORE.

      The twin tracks lie on a ballasted bed (not concrete, except in tunnels)
      The track centres are “up to 5 metres apart.”

      The masts supporting the power lines are “up to 11.5m.” apart, on either side of the rails.

      The WHOLE FORMATION is within the fenced strip “up to 22m” wide; this strip includes an access/ emergency road to one side.

      So- that’s it then.
      . No mention of “the Wembley Stadium football pitch”, nor of a strip “much wider (than HS1), the width of two three lane motorways at least”-(to quote a leaflet published by the Heart of England HSR Action Group), no- not even a track “Larger than a Motorway” (Middleton Action Group)

      Slightly more than HALF the width of a Motorway, in fact. Actually it’s no great surprise,when you see the photographs of HS1 running beside the motorway.

      “CUT and FILL”
      For nearly 200 years ( and probably in fact trom Roman times) engineers constructing roads and railways have used the material excavated from cuttings and tunnels to build embankments, thus creating a level route.
      “Every valley shall be exalted -and every mountain and hill made low…”

      At Sunday’s “STOP” Rally at Great Missenden, much was made of the under estimate of the amount of “spoil” to be removed from the route of HS2, should it be built.
      We were told to expect “tens of thousands of lorry loads,” with accompanying”clouds of dust”,etc. etc. befouling the lanes of the district.Yet another horror to attribute to this monstrous project…

      It seems, however that the spoil would be removed and transported by rail.

      And yes, because for environmental reasons, the track would be built at a low level, frequently in cuttings, there will be a surplus of material, some of which will be used to create the “bunds”, the banks flanking the line which in part both mask the line and deflect the sound of th passing trains.

      Remaining spoil would be taken away for use elsewhere or disposal, by rail.

      * The Missenden Gathering in the sunshine was indeed a festive affair with many stiring speeches to bolster and encourage the Faithful…strong on rhetoric and denunciation of the foe; even if little original material may have come to light, the converted were preached to and strengthened in their belief in the rightness of the Cause,(even if, as so often, the cost of both Phases 1 and 2 are quoted as the cost of Phase 1 to Birmingham,thus doubling the price.)

      ** Wouldn’t it be good, sometime, to have expert speakers, both for and against the planned HS line, together on the same platform, to answer and challenge each others’ statements, and to truly test and examine the “facts” about the Project with which we are bombarded.

      We might actually learn something new.

      • There have been a number of debates about HS2 with speakers who are both for and against HS2. We have publicised some of these. If you hear about any more – or organise one yourself – please email events@stophs2.org so we can add it to the events database.

        Regarding the “no vegetation zone” (which was referred to in one of the early HS2 Ltd documents): in response to an FOI , HS2 Ltd said earlier this year there is going to be some kind of vegetation management “within a corridor up to 25m on either side of the railway.”

        • We already have ” vegetation management ” either side of every mile of current rail network…..carried out by Network Rail or its subcontractors. If it wasnt managed , there would be safety issues. What it doesnt mean is blindly cutting down trees….

        • True,but one question they haven’t been able to answer at the roadshows is how much land-take they might require for construction purposes,as they haven’t done ground surveys.This is particularly relevant where properties are close to the classic line.I’ve been told that such a study won’t be done until the proposal gets Parliamentary consent.Spare land was sold off in the 80’s which would have to be re-possessed.So we wait,under blight,for another 2 years,or however long that takes.Just as the the residents of Sipson endured 10 years until the 3rd runway at Heathrow was abandoned.Or those in Acton who suffered 15 years while a road-widening of the Western Avenue was planned,and later abandoned.Houses were sold off,boarded up ,and those who remained lived in a dump.

            • Hi Gary,

              That leaflet has a remarkably low information content and is about a totally different type of railway. But no matter, point 4 gets to the heart of the situation and states “From both a safety and efficiency perspective, it is necessary to clear any vegetation within 8.5m of the railway line, so that the branches and leaves do not get in the way, or fall on the track causing delays.” For HS2 the faster speeds will necessitate the extension of that distance, hence the 25m figure quoted for the vegetation free zone either side of the main track section. Of course this does not particularly mean some sort of sterile desert as I’m sure that grass etc will be fine – but you can be equally sure that any tree within this zone will be removed without a second thought.

              A more interesting question was that of land take and other construction issues – do you have any good information there? HS2 Ltd do seem not to be able to be able to provide that stuff, which makes the whole concept of ‘consulting’ people about the plans somewhat laughable.

            • Andrew ….why dont you ask them at the roadshows??. Not quite sure why you think its laughable, they are touring with their staff who are open to questions. I assume you have been , or are planning to?. Ask them if they are indeed planning to remove all trees up to 25m. How many historic woods is the line cutting through?……and are they planning to re plant elsewhere to compensate?

              They have also invited people to give their view via a questionaire on the website if you so wish.

            • Thanks for the link,Gary.Not unfamiliar with track-laying or the tamping machine which keeps me awake at night!The embankment here would be widened to take account of continental gauge,and spacing.Built on clay ,it has suffered from serious subsidence,and would need remedial work and a retaining wall.Drainage and inadequate culverts is another issue.The roadshow consultants haven’t been able to answer the key question as to whether this could be done within existing railway land,or if an access road would need to be built.HS2 Enquiries ditto.Network Rail imposed a 10m.p.h. speed limit on the line for safety reasons,after which our houses ceased to shake when heavy goods went by.There is no access gate,so in the event of a derailment,the emergency services would be impeded.Before the Consultation the Transport Secretary informed me that all our concerns would be answered.Sadly,not true.

            • Hi Gary,

              Questions about construction issues have been asked repeatedly at roadshows, and will continue to be asked. Being open to questions is one thing, but answers have been considerably less forthcoming. Whether this is because they don’t feel comfortable giving out the truth or that they don’t know the truth I’m not sure – but either reason makes a mockery of ‘consulting on the HS2 plans’.

              I believe that the Woodland trust identify 21 ancient woods affected by the route of HS2 from London to Birmingham. I presume you understand that ‘historic’ cannot be replaced, only lost.

            • Andrew ….I intend to travel to one of the roadshows, either Brackley or Brimingham or Lichfield. If you want , post a list of questions on here that you think you have had less than satisfactory answers, and I ll ask when I m there.

            • Thanks for your offer – I’ll let you know how we get on after I’ve been to our local roadshow (not for a few weeks yet)

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