Professor Andrew McNaughton, the Chief Engineer for the highly controversial HS2 project, has revealed in a speech in Derby much of the secret agenda Stop HS2 campaigners have always suspected would be the case. McNaughton, giving the iRail 2012 Distinguished Lecture on ‘Designing High Speed Rail for Britain’ at the Derby College Roundhouse, stated that the HS2 station near Birmingham Airport would mean the development of a ‘new city’ in the Meriden Gap green belt separating Birmingham from Coventry.
Confirming the fears that the real reason for HS2 terminating at Euston is a land grab which will see at least eight years of disruption to the West Coast Mainline, McNaughton stated the redevelopment footprint would be the size of 17 Emirates’ football stadiums, the biggest development of any kind ever seen in London.
Whilst the current plan for 18 trains per hour on HS2 relies on technology which has not yet been invented McNaughton stated that he hoped 30 trains could be run. None of these issues were mentioned in the public consultation on HS2, neither was his assertion HS2 could be increased from 2 to 4 tracks 14km either side of intermediate stations like the one near Birmingham Airport. This could mean the doubling of track width from Kenilworth to Middleton. Another issue which has recently come up is the chance of HS2 running freight at night which is to be considered in a programme of ‘community fora’ organised by HS2 Ltd which start today (Monday 19th March 2012). This is despite McNauhgton previously asserting that “Freight will never run on my railway”.
Additionally, McNaughton intimated that mitigation on the routes to Manchester and Leeds will be minimal, suggestion there will be no tunnelling and hoped that there would be the poitical will the build HS2 faster, despite that meaning an annual spend of upwards of £4bn per year, opposed to the £2bn current projections.
Stop HS2 Campaign Coordinator Joe Rukin said;
“We have always suspected that HS2 is really a developers charter, especially around Birmingham Airport where the arrival of the HS2 station will be coupled with an ‘Enterprise Zone’, where the Government have said planning applications would be granted more or less automatically. We have been saying for almost two years that if HS2 goes ahead that that would mean the complete destruction of the ‘Meriden Gap’ green belt which separates Birmingham and Coventry and in November 2010, Coventry City Council unanimously voted to oppose HS2, citing one of their reasons as it being a way to shoe-horn in the idea of ‘Greater Birmingham’ which they have been fighting for decades.”
“Camden Council had been convinced that the reason for HS2 coming to Euston instead of terminating at Old Oak Common was simply a land grab to provide a cash cow to help pay for the programme and now their fears have been confirmed. A development 17 times the size of the Emirates Stadium, like most of the things McNaughton is now suggesting definitely didn’t appear in the sham which was the public consultation. The plans so far include moving every single track and platform into Euston, but now we know the extent of the development, you have to ask how much disruption is this going to cause to the transport network, none of which has been factored into the economic case for HS2.”
“McNaughton has a habit of saying what he should keep quiet about, previously stating the reason for building HS2 was no more than political will and during last years consultation, he more or less admitted it was a sham saying that ‘The important thing now is that we are seen to have had a consultation’. Now he has completely proved it was a sham as the true agenda is coming out as it was clearly never about transport as there are better alternatives which cost less money. With developers lobbying for HS2 and sponsoring other organisations lobbying for it, the fact that this Government can do nothing but promote the policies which those with vested interests have asked for is becoming completely transparent. There is a massive democratic deficit in play here and the public have been shamelessly lied to yet again.”
The report on the speech from Andrew McNaughton can be found at http://www.railnews.co.uk/news/2012/03/16-hs2-engineer-sets-out-new.html