The long walk(s) to Chequers

During the consultation period, Jim Rodda, from the Chiltern Society is planning to walking on the Chequers estate every day.

Chequers is only a couple of kilometres from the proposed HS2 route, but the peace of the estate will be protected by a short range of hills. It was given to the nation for the use of the Prime Minister as “a place of rest and recreation”.

Jim is blogging about his walks on Facebook, and his updates include the HS2 alphabet.

If you would like to join him on his treks, or lead a walk yourself just contact Jim for more details – he can supply you with maps and routes. Email him here, the Chiltern Society here or call 01494 728527.

47 comments to “The long walk(s) to Chequers”
  1. just got back from a long awaited weekend away in Rome and took a historical tour around the Collosium, roman forum and palatine hill. Our lovely tour guide was very scathing about the huge road that mussolini built right next to it because he thought the roman ruins made a beautiful back drop for his triumphant army marches. He also bulldozed over an ancient roman fountain so that he could march his troops through the Roman arch. She was also very scathing about a huge huge, white wedding cake like building, that was built to mark the unification of Italy. It cost an absolute fortune and everyone now finds it to be an eye sore on the skyline of Rome. Somehow it reminded me of something going on over here………………

  2. i have two suggestions re stations and service for the local area.

    one is to reopen the east west line and have an interchange station with the hs2 line where the two cross. i would suggest minimal parking with a bus connection for the local area to avoid traffic congestion which is of course otherwise the downside of any local stations on the route. this would also allow oxford to milton keynes journeys of course and hs2 could be used once the east west line had been reached to gain immediate benefit.

    my other idea is that where the proposed hs2 crosses the line from leamington to coventry and where it crosses the coventry to birmingham line that junctions could be built so that coventry could be served by hs2 and again could be in use sooner then currently planned for birmingham trains also. and it would connect into the west coast line there.
    i would include the proposed new kenilworth station in this scenario.

    • Yes, a station which interchanges with the East-West line would be an obvious choice. This would be near Bicester.

      However, HS2 Ltd have rejected the option of a station near there.

    • Nick,
      More interchange stations would at least serve more travellers, but, as Penny and Finmere have pointed out, HS2 Ltd have ruled out these for the first stage, on grounds of capacity (see the Command Paper) and ‘journey penalties’, by which they mean that if trains stop, the journey will take longer. Staffordshire Councils have also demanded stations on the Birmingham – Manchester section, and I have seen the latter argument made against this as well. HS2 Ltd want trains to be full and very fast, end of story.

      • Rose ( HS2 Ltd want trains to be full and very fast, end of story. )

        Indeed Rose – which is what the Pendolino service from Manchester to London is nowadays. This came about as a result of investment to improve the infrastructure, and now we see 3 trains an hour taking just 2 hours to get there. As Passenger Focus say ” the service has become boringly reliable “………and so popular to the extent that each train set is getting an extra 2 carriages over the next 12 month to relieve the crowding. .

        Service from Birmingham to London is exactly the same – which in effect is now a commuter route.

        • Exactly, Gary. There are already 3 Pendolinos an hour, very fast. Not fast enough for the Government and HS2 Ltd, though. BTW, according to one database (Rail Users?) there are more commuters to Euston from Coventry than from Birmingham, and the proposal post-HS2 is that there would be only one Cov-Euston train per hour. Coventry City Council, as you probably know, has voted to fight HS2.

          • Rose – you completely missed the point. The reason we have a 3TPH service is because the investment was made to allow that – it was originally a 1TPH service which took nearly 3 hours to complete. The benefits are there to see…..less people flying by shuttle and less people driving. The same thing happened with our own Metrolink service which is expanding at a rapid rate – it has taken 2 million car journeys off the road and will take a lot more off once the expansion is complete. Again that has happened because of the investment in a quality alternative to the car. .

            We absolutely need a new North/South rail line – all indications show that the current network is going to reach its physical capacity. Its a no brainer.


  3. Mr Hammond and the pro HS2 lobby claim that the scheme is affordable and that the country’s finances will be in far better shape when construction actually begins 6 or so years down the line. That’s quite a claim and will be a monumental achievement, given that the UK’s debt burden is £927bn (July 2010) and rising.

    • Especially as, if there is a change of government in 2015, the new lot will say the country’s finances are in a mess (again/still) and it is the fault of the previous lot. I’ve been hearing this my whole life: it doesn’t make for confidence in any government.

  4. We know your IP address, and the name you’ve given – what could be clearer? What else could we mean?

    Can’t wait for the judicial review! We like to discuss facts, figures and arguments on this website not insults, goading or nonsense. The sane, objective people commenting on our site will make up their own minds either way and we hope to help them consider the information available. Thanks for all you are doing to help us do that.

  5. With the question of freight. Alot of railways don’t get used during the night. When I lived in the USA near a train line, they used it at night time for slow freight trains, very energy efficient and not bothering anyone. We should do more of that over here. Yes, there would be people objecting to it who live near the train lines but it actually makes alot of sense to use our raillines 24 hours a day for slow freight trains.

    • How would we carry out maintainance bearing in mind that the network is mega busy during the day, and indeed Network Rail have recently re structured the works delivery teams to work a lot more nights and weekends?

      USA have a lot more freight lines simply because of the vast distances…..and they dont have anything like the intensity of network we do countrywide.

      • I would have thought that with good organisation maintenance could continue. if there was to be a period of maintenance the freight would have to go by lorry temporarily. Depends how urgent the load is. Ok logistical nightmares that could be solved by building a nice shiney new train line. Perhaps better to have talented people sorting out logistical nightmares than further building work. Is there an objection to maintenance workers having to work nights? Its not nice I know, I regularly work night shifts as a health worker, but someone has to do it, and I don’t get paid overtime for unsocial hours. Do maintenance workers? If so they must have a good union!

        • There are freight trains at night Mary, but with intermodal traffic on the increase, its really the demands of the end customer that dictate……and this has to be balanced with the needs of the maintainance requirements as well. Lets not forget we have something like 25000 services a day on our network which was originally built in Victorian days, that number is more than Belgium Holland Portugal and Spain put together. The strain is heavy and is getting worse as the network fills up. All the engineering arguments stack up for a brand new line…..its a no brainer from that point of view.

  6. Heres a hypothetical idea that people on both sides of the argument might like to comment on.
    Increasingly we are adopting the idea of ‘localism’ across europe – so that people have more control regionally over how money is spent and how services are delivered etc.
    I personally think it would be fair for money allocated by central government for infrastructure and regional development to be controlled more by the people living in the regions. Perhaps the money would be allocated to different regions in proportion to levels of unemployment for example or perhaps it would be allocated depending on population numbers in a region.
    local people would get to vote in local elections about infrastructure projects or how best to use this money. Different regions might get together to pool their resources for joint projects that benefit a number of regions.
    what are opinions for and against this hypothetical idea?

    • Nikita , Not against it ……indeed Network Rail have just introduced that idea and have split themselves into regions with autonomy, the first 2 being Scotland and Wessex. And of course we already have Welsh and Scottish parliaments

      But of course HS2 is a national project with a projected spend which dwarfs the ability of regional assemblies to deal with it. And no doubt the Nimbyism would arise in the Chiltern regions leading to conflict.

      • well if those areas of the country with the highest unemployment rates got the most money – it could be heavily weighted actually towards those areas (and they can spend it outside of their region on projects that will help them) you will end up with a fairer system. as long as planning laws allowed it, the infrastructure projects will go through other regions like buckinghamshire no problem. The regions might decide to spend it on other ways of stimulating economic growth in the area however. All this investment money is all borrowed anyway and has to paid back by someone. who? the central tax fund so money is getting distributed more evenly.
        However they would still have to prove that it is in the national interest before going through a national area of outstanding beauty or a national park.( I actually think they’d find that quite a difficult case to prove because with localism it becomes a scheme that benefits certain regions but not others and therefore its debatable whether it benefits the nation as a whole – but perhaps the law on the protection of these areas is sufficiently woolly enough to allow it – I expect its fairly woolly). I think we should move towards localism and should think about the concept in more detail. Just out of interest Gary – do you have a degree in transport or somesort of expert knowledge?

        • ( Nikita ) Just out of interest Gary – do you have a degree in transport or somesort of expert knowledge?

          Yes …… I m studying for one !!!!!! HS2 would make a very good topic for a dissertation, though thats a bit off yet… the more rational your arguments the better !!

          • heres a good topic for a dissertation
            who has the moral high ground, stop HS2 NIMBYS or prospective highly paid transport executives or the green party or the taxpayers alliance or Phillip Hammond? Look at all the ethics and motivations behind each body and see which one is worthy of support on moral grounds. I’d plump for the green party personally

            • Penny – would you object to a new rail route South to North if it was dedicated to freight only and had a variety of route options open to it ?

              Nikita – cant say to be honest, the Green Party does support rail travel, but appear to be opposing this scheme until the actual enviromental benefits are proven.

              Full public inquiry is defo needed here…..its a no brainer tbh

            • Full public inquiries usually happen after a major rail disaster – not before! The House of Commons Transport Select Committee is to look into the case for and/or against the HS2. That’s the best we can expect for now. I’m no authority on parliamentary procedure but I understand that the use of a hybrid bill bypasses the normal planning process, inquiries, environmental impact assessments etc.

      • The thing is though, Brian Briscoe, Chair of HS2 Ltd, and Philip Hammond have both publicly said that there won’t be lots of extra stations. They have both said there will be at most one or two extra stations on the entire network. So you are asking yet another hypothetical question.

        • Indeed Penny……and the question hasnt been ducked either……..

          And if one of those one or two extra stations as you state were actually for local people surely more people would benefit locally ?? Including those who dont have a car?

          • Do you think it would be good if the HS2 increased the north-south divide? Philip Hammond and Brian Briscoe have both said that for the line to be high speed it needs to have very few stations – at most one or two. If those stations are close to London, the north-south divide gets bigger.

          • If you come out with a detailed plan, including maps of where and how the proposed HS2 line hypothetically connects to the Chilterns line, then I might have a view. Until then you are just idly speculating.

            • Penny – you are avoiding giving a direct answer again.

              Lets not forget that there is an Atkins report which goes into some length about an alternative to HS2, which of course is just a speculative idea as are various other related projects.

              As of this moment, there is no commitment to HS2 – no funding allowed for or palimentary bill etc, we are very much at the consultation stage. Indeed there are roadshows which actually invite comment which of course are open to all.

              Now i ll ask you a direct question – Do you think there should be a full public inquiry into HS2 – yes or no.

            • Penny – re your point about Public Inquiry.

              Im all for it…..if you guys are, you need to be shouting a lot louder than you are now. A public inquiry really would sort the wheat from the chaff of both sides of the argument. I personally think its the right thing to do no matter what the result is. If you have a petition for that, I ll put my name to it no problem.

      • HS2 have looked at this and ruled it out. Here is the relevant clip from their report.

        Classic-compatible running onto the Chiltern Line

        3.10.15 As a development of our intermediate station analysis, we also considered the possibility of running trains off HS2 at a point near Bicester and onto the Chiltern line, potentially to serve Oxford. Despite indications that there would be high commuting demand from Oxford (a reflection of the relatively slow journey times today), we ruled this option out on the basis that (were it technically feasible) it would leave a great deal of HS2’s capacity north of Bicester unused and would inhibit the growth of a longer term network by using up paths on the southern half of HS2.

  7. I dont think that you can assume that people have not educated themselves on something that impacts their lives as this does. There is no existing track and in fact not for a extremely long time- hence there being a nature reserve. My point about trains or motor way is that everyone deserves access to good transport. If a motor way was near me at least everyone could access it and benefit from all the disruption.

    • Would you be saying that if a motorway was built right on your doorstep ?

      There are hundred of areas in the UK with no existing track….remember Beeching?

  8. @clavert/twyford/steeple claydon:

    Have you actually looked at the plans or are you simply guided by the selective viewpoint propagated by the anti-HS2 brigade?

    The latter would seem to be the case because the proposed route DOES take advantage of existing transport corridors wherever feasible – for example the use of a disused rail line near Burton Green – of course the residents of Burton Green are not too chuffed about that outcome.

    How many times does it need saying before the penny drops – upgrading existing lines has been considered but the costs of disruption combined with the inability of utilising existing transport corridors in all cases to deliver maximum benefit mean that this option can never deliver the maximum desired cost / benefit ratio.

    No amount of debate about this contentious matter is ever going to satisfy those who are viscerally opposed to HS2 because it runs in close proximity to their location – the public consultation process combined with the select committee enquiry will expose all of the relevant arguments to public scrutiny but for you to claim that the benefits will accrue to just a few is simply fatuous nonsense – extending access to the burgeoning High Speed Rail network will allow millions of UK residents outside the London/SE nexus to avail themselves of easy and convenient high speed rail travel, offering them a credible alternative to car and airborne transport mediums

    • Hi Peter

      Have you actually looked at the plans or are you simply guided by the selective viewpoint propagated by the pro-HS2 brigade? I’m disappointed in your peddling the same old NIMBY arguments.

      For what it is worth the old branch line through Burton Green even when it had trains would be hard pushed to claim to be an existing transport corridor, and now that it has spent getting on for 50 years as a bridleway and recreation area your claim is pretty fatuous. Not only that but the route of the Kenilworth Greenway and the proposed route of HS2 coincide for not even one whole mile – so not only is it not ‘an existing transport corridor’, the route is not even using it.

      But does this actually matter? Not really. If the best route went right through my front room that would be bad for me, but the key question is whether it is good for the country – and that is the problem with the HS2 proposals. All the pictures of shiny trains and talk of transformation sound very nice, and HS2 would undoubtedly make some people very happy – but unfortunately they are expecting everyone to pay for it, and keep paying for it. If there is no return for the country then this is pretty selfish. Even on the official figures upgrading existing lines costs less and gives a better cost benefit ratio than HS2, and remember the existing stations are the ones that are genuinely easy and convenient for users. And personally I don’t see how the requirement for HS2 to rebuild Euston will be less disruptive than the minor tinkering inherent in RP2.

    • i used to live near burton green and the disused railway line is a very narrow track – literally couple of metres across that is beloved of children and ramblers. as a child we often walked along it , it was magical – surrounded by trees and hedges. it was certainly not a transport corridor

    • its not going to be very convenient for a family of 4 on a low wage – just better not to travel.
      better to enjoy what little countryside there is in your own locality. For people doing business in London they often only need to travel into london sporadically rather than commuting on a daily basis. if they spend a couple of days and stay in a bed and breakfast does it matter if it takes them an hour or so longer on the journey back home. This is the way people work – mostly from home with sporadic trips into London here and there where they need to stay over night. better to spend this money on more low cost accomodation for business travelers I would say.

  9. Ican not understand the justification of spending £17 billion on another line that benefits a few whilst we have a network of roads and other train lines that are crying out for improvements? Regardless of the lines proposed route – Do you not think that people inbetween the stations deserve good transport for our future prosperity as well? I would like to drive to my place of work without having my car damaged by pot holes or a train to take me to the nearest city! The area where I live is not exactly the Chilterns but its beautiful too. The proposed route will be cutting through a nature reserve. No amount of trees, cuttings or shrubs can reduce the visual impact of three new viaducts and two bridges. The government mention that they will run it alongside existing infrastructure – there are no existing trains or motoways where I live. Not content with this they will be building a 23/7 maintanence depot in open countryside outside two villages the nearest towns are 8 miles away. The distruption the local people is obvious. Why can’t they consider using, improving and upgrading exisitng lines/roads instead of starting somewhere else a potentially substandard transport style

    • There may not be any existing trains or motorways where you live, but do you not use either mode anywhere else? Is that why it’s OK to look at expanding existing transport corridors, because it will affect other people and not you?

      By the way, if she’s reading this (or if anyone else reading this speaks to her) I’m still waiting for an answer from Lizzy about what she meant by ‘we know who you are’ which was a seemingly threatening comment she gave in response to a post I made yesterday (12 March). I’d like to know exactly what was meant by this rather than her factual response about the kind of information it is possible to obtain from information submitted via an internet form.

    • the point of having the new line is to relieve congestion on the overcrowded network – it really should have been called high capacity line hc2 or hc&s2 then maybe critics would understand what it is for ! and since the majority of through direct trains will use hs2 to birmingham then onwards to manchester and eventually leeds on the high capacity line hc2 and points north i really cant see how this will only be a few people! virgin is carrying nearly thirty million people a year !

      there are a few towns some quite large on the west coast route now that either have very few direct services or even few services at all. the reason for this is that because the lines are congested their stops have left out in favour of larger towns and cities which have higher revenue because of their greater size. the high capacity line hc2 will allow these towns to have much better services then they do know. with the huge cost of fuel now it is inconceivable that the existing network will not be improved by the high capacity line hc2. and that more car users will not use rail instead because of the vast improvements that high capacity line hc2 will allow. and of course the speed of hs2 will help also ! so lets call it hc@s !

      • It is only a few people. According to transport watch, in their briefing notes for MPs, 98% of the population will use HS2 less than once a year.

        today 56% of us use rail at least once a year (b) only circa 5% of rail trips are longer than 100 miles and (c) the proportion of those long distance trips that lie in the HS2 corridor is unlikely to be above 50%. Hence, only one person in 70, or 1.4% of us, is likely to use HS2 more than once a year [(56% x 5% x 50%) = 1.4%].

        Those from the top quintile of household income travel five times as much by rail as do those from either of the bottom two quintiles. One of the reasons put forward in support of the proposal is that the existing line is running out of capacity. Since the railways make a massive loss the obvious solution is to balance supply and demand by raising fares but that has not been considered.

      • if the reason for this is to increase capacity why can’t we have an energy efficient version going at a lower speed? it would also reduce construction costs.
        there are other ways of achieving this increase in capacity without spending the huge amount of money that is currently proposed.
        people north of birmingham are unlikely to want to do a daily commute to londond – more likely to want to visit sporadically and stay over night when they do. the need for 250mph is not there.
        i know in japan people commonly commute 2 hours each way, every day on their highspeed trains to get to tokyo
        . Do we really want to be like Japan? Are we being forced into being like Japan by the capitalist system that we find ourselves in.

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