It’s not the design of the structures, HS2 itself is the problem

According to the Financial Times,

“The transport secretary is to announce plans for a design panel to ensure that the High Speed 2 rail line between London and the north respects rural areas, as he seeks to appease campaigners ahead of a judicial review….

“Similar to the panels which worked on the design of the Olympic Park and Crossrail, it will review plans for stations, large viaducts and bridges, and recommend improvements.

“I’m particularly keen to ensure high quality design for structures along the HS2 route – and to give communities confidence that they will be as sensitive as possible to the character of their setting,” Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, will tell the Campaign for Rural England’s annual lecture on Tuesday.”

The problem with HS2 is not so much whether the structures stand out or fit into the areas they pass through, as whether the railway ought to be built at all.

Of course, no-one wants badly designed stations, bridges or viaducts, but making them look pretty does not get away from the underlying flaws in the HS2 proposal.

The problems with HS2 start with whether the railway is needed at all – as we reported yesterday, alternative packages of incremental improvements could meet capacity needs without having to build a new railway. The economic benefits are based mostly around the value of saving small amounts of time on a journey, but ignore the way many people use train journeys to work these days.

Then there is the speed: a design speed of 250mph means that the route itself cannot avoid sensitive wildlife sites. The speed also means that HS2 will only be carbon neutral: a £33 billion transport project should be designed with carbon reduction as one of its aims.  And many people are worried about the noise of trains, which will be heard even if the railway, or the structures it’s made up of, are out of sight.

And of course there is the issue of connectivity. The original plans excluded Heathrow. There is no interchange station with East West rail. There are concerns about the link between HS2 and HS1. No amount of prettifying of stations will make up for the inconvenience of complicated routes for real journeys: a better thought through new railway could have actually increased journey options, instead of simply duplicating existing routes.

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9 comments on “It’s not the design of the structures, HS2 itself is the problem
  1. Brilliantly put John!

    It is unbelievable the way this shoddy debacle is rumbling on, yet there is still no over powering reason why it should, quite the opposite in fact. So why oh why do politicians seem intent on blighting this land and the quality of life for thousands of people?
    HS2 is one cut that the Government should make!

  2. At last a real basic black and white article stating what all those opposing HS2 have said all along .For goodness sake why are we still having
    to bang our heads against the wall.Why cant those supposedly intelligent folk that are supposedly running OUR country see the flaming obvious.We dont want pretty bridges we want our lives to go back to how it was before we had ever heard of the abomination that is
    called HS2.

  3. If a respected modern artist carefully added a viaduct to a Constable masterpiece, like Dedham Vale, would it add to its value or devalue it?

  4. No amount of prettifying of stations will make up for the inconvenience of complicated routes for real journeys: a better thought through new railway could have actually increased journey options, instead of simply duplicating existing routes.

    I’m intrigued by this comment – which precise routing for this new railway would STOPHS2 be prepared to endorse?

    • Stop HS2 does not endorse any alternative railway, but we do point out that the HS2 proposal is badly thought through.

    • Example. Contrast HS2 with the new East-West line between Oxford and Bedford.

      £270m Oxford / Aylesbury – Bedford.
      Benefit to cost ratio of 6 to 1.
      100 mph trains.
      Intermediate stations.
      No mega tunnels, viaducts or cuttings.
      No local objections

      • Its also taken 20 years and there have been strong objections about running more trains through Wolvercote tunnel,just resolved.

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