On Wednesday, Stop HS2 took Maria Eagle, Labour’s shadow Secretary of State for Transport, on a tour of some of the areas which will be affected by HS2.
Starting near Great Missenden, Stop HS2 drove along the proposed route of HS2 between Great Missenden and Wendover. This is described in the HS2 documents as a “transport corridor” along the “busy A413”. In reality, the A413 is a relatively minor, single carriageway road, linking these two small market towns. It runs parallel to the tracks of the Chiltern Railways service between Amersham and Aylesbury.
From Wendover, we drove to Stoke Mandeville, on the outskirts of Aylesbury. Then, through the housing estates of Walton Court and Fairford Leys on the south of Aylesbury. Walton Court has a high proportion of rented houses, and is relatively deprived. However, it has easy access to the countryside – countryside which will be dominated by the High Speed trains running on a viaduct and embankments the other side of a field from the houses.
In contrast, Fairford Leys is a new housing development to the south-west of Aylesbury, built up over the last 15 years. It has a thriving central square with shops, restaurants and other amenities. The proposed railway will hit the “squeezed middle” who have saved up to live here and buy houses here.
Just outside Aylesbury, Maria was driven past Aylesbury Vale Parkway station, opened in 2008: opposite is the start of a new housing development. From there, Maria was taken to the villages of Waddesdon and Quainton, where she was able to clearly see how close the proposed HS2 would be to both of them. She was shown the existing railway line that HS2 would replace: the railway at the moment has a single track which takes the occasional freight train.
From Quainton, Maria went to Burton Green in Warwickshire. In a meeting arranged by Stop HS2, she met some of the people who will be directly affected by the proposed railway line.
Speaking afterwards, Ian Cox said “she listened to everything we said, she seemed very receptive to our arguments and I hope she takes those arguments away and reports back to her own members and her own shadow cabinet.”
For more information about her visit to Burton Green, see Central News.