Around £2.5m per mile is available for mitigation along the proposed HS2 route between Birmingham and London.
This was one of many points raised in an interesting programme called High Speed Hell? broadcast last night (Thursday) on BBC Radio 4.
You can listen again here.
What was particularly interesting was an interview with Jolyon and Christine Drury, who live alongside HS1 in Kent. The Drury house is 400m from HS1 and 500m from the M20 but Mr Drury said the motorway was ‘more irritating’ than the railway.
“I’m now entirely used to it,” he said, referring to HS1.
Reporter Tom Heap recorded the noise from the Drury’s garden – the couple said the ‘white-top motorway’ was the greatest source of irritation as it was durable but noisy.
He then stood on a bridge while a Eurostar service swept underneath at 186mph.
“Eurostar didn’t shake me but I’m glad to be leaving the roaring traffic of the M20 behind,” he said.
Of course, there are competing noises for the Drury family, and this will not always be the case elsewhere.
But experts made the point that noise is often about perception. Can the train be seen? And are trees used as a barrier?
Mr Heap spoke to industry experts and discussed sound barriers and engineering technology used in Crossrail to cushion tracks.
He asked Philip Hammond what would be done to address noise and other concerns along HS2’s route.
“There is a significant sum in the budget for specific mitigation,” he said.
Mr Hammond said £300m was available between London and Birmingham – around £2.5m per mile – for mitigation such as acoustic fencing.
Peter Delow of Cubbington Action Group was interviewed under a pear tree which he said was 300-years-old and would be lost. He said he was worried about the ‘devastation’ construction would bring and how long it would take to build HS2.
Rail journalist and commentator Christian Wolmar said he believed HS2’s proposed speed should be cut from 225mph to 186mph.
“Reducing line speed would only cost 3 to 4 minutes (Birmingham to London journey time) but their (HS2) business case is based on cost savings.”
Mr Hammond responded: “If you reduce speed you reduce the economic benefits but do not significantly reduce costs (construction).”