IT’S nine months since publication of the HS2 proposal. Some of the information has got distorted along the way, and needs clarifying. Firstly, the planned journey time from Euston to Birmingham is 49 minutes, not the 31 minutes sometimes quoted.
That’s 11 minutes quicker than the time Sir Richard Branson believed could be achieved by upgrading the existing line and cutting out stops.
Secondly, it’s said trains in this area won’t be noisy, as they’ll be slowing down to stop at Bickenhill. This is untrue, two-thirds of trains are non-stop and will pass at full speed. Thirdly, it’s also untrue that much of the HS2 line will be in a cutting. Of the 12 km in the borough, 80 per cent is planned to be at or above ground level.
Lastly, the spin from the Government is that the HS2 route “follows existing transport corridors”. If the phrase meant anything, HS2 wouldn’t need to cross the West Coast main line, the A452 (twice), the A45, the M42, the M6, etc.
But this is all small beer compared to the changes to the “economic geography”. With the Midlands as part of the London commuter belt better-quality hotels, dining, shopping, and entertainment will be early casualties of the economic suck from London. As standards fall, many Midlands towns will become less attractive.
It’s a poor monger who cries Stinking Fish, but after the “tremendous success” of HS1 in Kent, there’s no need. On our behalf, the Government borrowed £6 billion, and has now leased out the line for an annual return of 1.2 per cent, fixed for 30 years, out of which the taxpayer is expected to subsidise some of the trains. That’s business for you.
To plump up the case for HS2, the Government expects continuous passenger growth of 5.3 per cent, whereas the actual growth since the early 1980s (shown in Government statistics) is 2 to 2.4 per cent.
A lack of passengers means a thumping loss for the taxpayer.
Richard Lloyd, chairman, Heart of England High Speed Railway Action Group ( www.hhag.org.uk )
Get in step
MR HT Harvey reminds me of the soldier whose father says to his near neighbour, both watching the parade, ‘Look at my son, he is the only one in step’, when in fact he is the only one out of step.
HTH only has to read the editorial in last week’s Birmingham Post to see how far out of step he is. It seems there is growing support for the opposition groups whilst an impossible full unity across the political parties will be needed in support of a Hybrid Bill.
Rather than using these columns to continually put down opposition groups, HTH could ask HHAG for an invite to their next meeting to get an understanding of the real concerns. They will surely be happy to discuss your differences in a respectful manner.
Peter Bray, Balsall Common
MANY people will enjoy Christmas by eating turkeys. I would like to remind those people to have a think about how that turkey has ended up on your plate before eating it like scavengers. Please leave the turkeys and all other animals in peace and enjoy a Christmas with a clear conscience....
Maninder Kaur, Shirley
MAY I thank Caroline Grinnell For the glowing commendation made to Friends in Retirement (FIRS) in last week’s letters. She referred to my notes on “The surprises of Retirement /Redundancy.” Most people found a major problem was the loss of social contacts and the workplace friendships.
Yes, joining a club like FIRS is a good move. It keeps you involved in life, for there must always be a balance. For more info. visit www.friendsinretirement.co.uk. – or come to St Alphege Church at 2.30 Sunday, December 12 and meet us at our annual carol service.
Jim Bumstead Chair (FIRS)