HS2 line may include £500m tunnel under the Chiltern Hills to keep Tory rebels happy

December 4th, 201111:09 pm @

0


  • Final decision on HS2 line to be delayed until New Year

By
Emily Allen

Last updated at 10:27 PM on 4th December 2011


Transport Secretary Justine Greening is understood to be considering whether a £500 million tunnel should be bored to minimise impact on the landscape

Transport Secretary Justine Greening is considering whether a £500 million tunnel should be bored to minimise impact on the landscape

Ministers are considering drilling a tunnel costing up to £500million under the Chilterns as senior Tories rebel against the new high speed rail link.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening will confirm this week that she is delaying the decision over the HS2 route between London and Birmingham until the New Year.

The 1.5-mile tunnel would be in the constituency of Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan.

She is deeply opposed to the rail link and has indicated she may quit the Cabinet if the route ploughs through her Chesham and Amersham constituency.

Other senior Tories opposed to the proposed route include Europe minister David Lidington and Government whip Jeremy Wright. Speaker John Bercow is also reported to oppose it.

The 100-mile rail link, which would be built between 2016 and 2026, aims to cut the London to Birmingham journey time to 49 minutes from the current typical time of 1 hr 23 min.

Not on their backyard: An anti-HS2 sign in picturesque Wendover in Buckinghamshire

Not on their backyard: An anti-HS2 sign in picturesque Wendover in Buckinghamshire

Ministers argue that the improvement will boost the economy of the West Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire.

The cost of the extra tunnel has been
reported to be around £500million, although sources say it will be
‘significantly’ less and would be funded by savings made elsewhere on
the route.

It would join up two other tunnels around Amersham, reducing the impact
on the Chilterns, a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.

The Campaign to Protect  Rural England said additional tunnelling would
be ‘essential’  if HS2 is to be built through  the Chilterns.


Under threat: A Tudor mansion in Great Missenden where the proposed HS2 high speed rail line route will cut through the Chiltern Hills

Under threat: A Tudor mansion in Great Missenden where the proposed HS2 high speed rail line route will cut through the Chiltern Hills

But a spokesman added: ‘We are concerned by suggestions that the
additional £500million will come from cutting back on mitigation
measures elsewhere.

‘Just because countryside is not nationally
designated does not mean it should not be valued and protected.’

Labour has put forward an alternative route which would see HS2 using
more existing transport ‘corridors’. Transport spokesman Maria Eagle
said: ‘By stubbornly refusing to consider Labour’s alternative plan for
HS2, half a billion pounds of taxpayers’ money is set to be spent on
mitigating the environmental impacts of a flawed route.’

Meanwhile, a report commissioned by 17 councils affected by the route
has accused ministers of making a ‘deeply flawed and very weak’ economic
case for the project.

It says benefits to the taxpayer could be as little as half the £32billion costs.

Hard line: Protesters advocate for the line to be scrapped with several posters on roads in Buckinghamshire

Hard line: Protesters advocate for the line to be scrapped with several posters on roads in Buckinghamshire

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

£500 million for 1,5 miles of tunnel, reported as a ‘new’ tunnel. In fact it’s just a small extension of the existing tunnel where it is at a relatively low level. The line will still rise from there over the very top of the Chilterns near here and travel, mostly exposed, along the ridges, before diving down to Wendover like a guided missile..This is a very expensive sticking plaster attempting to mend a broken project, but still they bumble on.
Most of the justification for it involves repeating already disproved ‘facts’ and adding the occasional bit of expense trumpeted as a solution. I have lost all faith in the processes that government use to plan, justify and implement major infrastructure projects. The roadshows were an absolute farce, the finances are ludicrous and the planning a shambles.

This whole project is a complete waste of money should be scrapped.How many hospitals, schools new homes could be built with this money.A far better cheaper option would be some sort of short hop air service if people are so desperate to save 20 minutes getting to London from Birmingham.

The railway was invented in Britain yet we are one of the few developed countries in the world without a high speed system linking our major cities.Objectors seem to be intent on us crawling,I can’t say rushing,into the 19th century.(red arrows expected)

I think that I can solve the problem. Put the billions into a pot labelled “Future Government and Civil Service Pensions”. Pay for the line out of that pot and put back in all the profits it generates. Then pay the pensions out of that.
Still want to go ahead? Thought not.

£30,000,000,000+ to save 30 minutes on a journey from London to Birmingham? Just who will benefit? It would be cheaper to transport them in chauffeur driven Rolls Royces! I am totally against the HS2 project and I don’t live anywhere hear the route.

HS2 will pass in tunnels under the River Misbourne threatening the flow in the river and its water quality. The Chilterns aquifer provides drinking water to over one million people. Construction of the railway will involve closure of some Buckinghamshire groundwater supply sources at Amersham, Little Missenden etc and the water companies will need to compensate for this supply loss by bring in water from elsewhere. The Chess and Colne catchments are defined over-abstracted by the Environment Agency.

England does need faster rail connexions to the North and Scotland, but I fear the fares planned are far too high, and certainly the links should run alongside motorways where possible, not through AONBs (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) such as the route envisaged via the Chilterns.

Those affected by the line should form a single issue political party dedicated to preventing HS2. This political party could hold the balance of power in a future parliament. One things for sure, if they continue to vote Tory the line will be built.

Why do the Chilterns get a £500m 1.5 mile tunnel
But Liverpool and Sheffield dont get branch lines?

Done to shut the wealthy NIMBY’s up !!!

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