No Go-Slow for HS2 – part three

In the final post Alan Marshall looks at the M1 ‘alternative’ and makes a brief comparison of HS1 and HS2.

M1 alignment at 300km/h — ‘substantially more complicated’

London-Birmingham journey time would be 55 minutes.

As with the M40 corridor, a surface alignment along the M1 route would encounter a much greater number of major population centres than the now-proposed route, “including Hemel Hempstead, Milton Keynes and, in particular, Luton” — with a combined population of over 480,000 people.

“This would result in unacceptable impacts on communities through major demolitions, severance and noise impacts and therefore this route would require substantial sections of tunnelling. This makes it a substantially more complicated,” stated the HS2 Ltd report.

The cost of constructing this route would be £18.7 billion, £2.2 billion more than the now-recommended route — reducing the Benefit Cost Ratio of the scheme by 25 per cent or more.

HS2 Ltd added: “The surface sections of the new M1 alignment would result in 150 residential dwellings being at risk of demolition, more than double for the section between Old Oak Common and the Birmingham Interchange Station . . . [and] 14 communities would also be at risk of isolation or severance, as a result of being bounded by transport infrastructure, as compared with three communities at risk of isolation for the [now-proposed] route.”

In addition, tunnels for the M1 option would pass under 6,400 dwellings “compared to 350 for the proposed route.”

Transport corridor comparison: HS1 and HS2

Neither the M40 or M1 follow the most direct route from the West Midlands to London

Neither the M40 or M1 follow the most direct route from the West Midlands to London

HS2 Ltd pointed out that neither the M1 nor the M40 motorways follow the most direct route from London to the West Midlands. “Given this, they make any rail route following them longer, both in terms of distance and journey time. As they serve other major towns and cities along the way, any route following these transport corridors would impact on populations and the existing infrastructure such as motorway junctions which would need to be avoided or mitigated” — all leading to higher costs.

Significantly, HS2 Ltd also emphasised that the major transport corridors between London and Birmingham (M1/M6 and M40/M42) “differ significantly from those between London and Folkestone, namely the M20, along which HS1 travels. It passes by fewer large population centres and takes a more direct route from London to its intended destination.”

So HS2 will actually do what HS1 already does — avoid large population centres and take a more direct route from London than the existing motorways.

“Every alternative corridor considered would increase the costs and reduce the economic benefits of HS2, and none of them would result in significantly reduced impacts on the environment.”

Not surprisingly, therefore, HS2 Ltd’s overall conclusion was that “the adopted route corridor presents the best balance of cost, sustainability impacts, journey times and benefits.”

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