Soapbox John Weston: Reopen the old railways lines rather than tearing up countryside with HS2
A FEW days ago, I was asked what I thought of HS2. Completely unnecessary, was my reply.
At age 93, I don't have a personal problem with HS1, never mind HS2, but I do owe it to the community in which I have lived for so long, to help in any way that I can, with the opposition that will surely follow.
I contend that both these proposals will run over time and well over budget. Not least because all the misery they would create will lead to many law suits against them.
How can the people of this country stop these Government proposals? By a nationwide protest movement.
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This will have to be led by MPs. They should be told that the next election can be won by the party which says an impoverished nation cannot afford these proposals.
Opposition without an alternative cannot win. I would suggest an alternative which would be better for the vehicle builders and component manufacturers than this pie in the sky.
I propose that current and former lines be re-examined to see what improvements to journey times can be made using those resources. For example, that the former Midland line from Manchester to London be re-opened. From Rowsley to St Pancras, it is already there.
It's also there from Peak Forest to some distance beyond Chinley, on the route via Cheadle Heath.
What would reopening this line need? The track-bed has not changed, so it is rails that would be required. Also a bridge at Rowsley, work on the Haddon tunnel, and on the viaducts at Monsal Dale and Millers Dale.
A new station at Manchester would be required, as near as possible to the old Central terminus.
Reopening this line would bring improvement to the journey times currently experienced, at a small fraction of the cost of the HS2 proposals and with a minimum of disruption.
I can also envisage a proposal for Toton sidings, and measures to bring immediate help to the railway rolling stock builders, but that requires another letter.
I know a bit about railway operations – enough to write a book – and I know for sure that business people in Derby and Nottingham will gain nothing from HS2 – not if they have to travel to Toton first.
Those in favour are formidable opponents. Every Government Minister and every civil servant who has worked on the project will support HS2.
Those who are opposed to the plan will have to be completely united and make this known to every MP and every county councillor.
HS2 will ruin many miles of our countryside. And for what? Nothing that cannot be achieved by working on our existing and former railway routes.
The majority of the people of England view the new high-speed lines as unnecessary and unaffordable. Who is with me?