HS2 Update for October 2010

Impact of the high-speed rail line

As many will know, the ‘preferred’ route for the Government’s proposed new high-speed rail line to Birmingham, known as HS2, cuts through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and runs right along the edge of Wendover. For many people, the extent of the noise and disruption that would be caused during the construction work is only now beginning to sink in, along with the prospect of up to 36 noisy trains per hour speeding non-stop past Wendover at 225-250mph once the line has been completed, in around 2025. Although there are still many unanswered questions, the following points come from official reports prepared by HS2 Ltd., and Freedom of Information requests.

The new line would run from The Lee on an embankment behind the Jet garage on the London Road, crossing over the A413 and the Chiltern Line on a 600-metre-long viaduct, with the trains running at a height of 10 metres above the road. It may be necessary to divert or lower the roads, or raise the HS2 embankment on London Road even higher, to provide enough clearance for the viaduct above the road. Raising the embankment would increase the noise and visual disturbance further on London Road, while lowering or diverting the roads would cause major disruption to local traffic.

The proposed rail route runs right through the line of pylons and power cables to the south of Wendover and alongside the A413. These may therefore need to be relocated, but the route engineers admit that there are no obvious places to relocate them to, and that they have not considered the impact of this on the electricity distribution network.

Some residential properties on Ellesborough Road would be demolished, and Ellesborough Road itself raised. A ‘cut and cover’ tunnel under Ellesborough Road has been proposed, to help reduce noise impacts on adjacent properties, but this might not be feasible if the line has to be raised slightly, as the ‘cover’ is very shallow at that point.

Alongside the A413, the rail line would run on a five-metre-high embankment. Trains would initially pass Wendover non-stop at 225mph, but could eventually run at 250mph. HS2 Ltd have been unable to provide noise statistics for trains travelling at 250mph. At 217mph, a level of 95dB would be expected 25 metres from the centre of the track. Wheel noise and aerodynamic noise are likely to be greater at the higher speed, however, and when the rail line is elevated, as it would be at Wendover. HS2 Ltd. has conceded that ‘Noise impacts from HS2 would affect many people living along the route, with about 350 dwellings predicted to experience high noise levels and a much larger number experiencing some increase, were no mitigation put in place.’

HS2 Ltd. anticipates passenger services running from 5am to midnight, Mondays to Saturdays, and 8am to midnight on Sundays. If freight were to travel on the line, it would have to be at night or very early in the morning, as it would not be possible to mix fast passenger trains and slower freight trains. Track maintenance work would be carried out at night. There are maps and a birds-eye picture of Wendover, showing the line of the route, on www.wendoverhs2.org.


In a speech on 10 September, the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed that detailed plans for the Government’s High-Speed Rail programme would be announced ‘very soon’, and that there would be a public consultation in the New Year. The speech came days after the closure of the Government’s Spending Challenge website, which asked the public for money-saving ideas. More than 500 people wrote suggesting that HS2 be scrapped, and many hundreds more rated the ideas for scrapping HS2 very highly. Wendover HS2 Action Group’s aim is to provide the local community with enough information to enable all residents to participate fully in the consultation in the New Year. We will continue to communicate through Wendover News and local market stalls. Please visit www.wendoverhs2.org, join our mailing list.

Exceptional Hardship Scheme

The Exceptional Hardship Scheme, which is designed to help people who are having difficulty selling their property because of HS2 and who can demonstrate that they have an urgent need to sell before a final decision has been reached about the route, is now in operation. Full details of the application process are available from HS2 Ltd.’s website, at www.hs2.org.uk. Reference copies of the forms have been placed in Wendover Library and the Clocktower.


Wendover HS2 has launched a fundraising campaign to raise money locally to fight the proposals for the new high-speed line. Funds will be used for publicity materials and to take the fight to Parliament. Could you make a donation to support the campaign? You can do so by writing a cheque to ‘Wendover HS2’ and sending it to: Carol Clark, Treasurer, Wendover HS2, 36 Ellesborough Road, Wendover, HP22 6EL. If you would like to make a direct bank payment, please call Carol Clark on 01296 696886. Alternatively, you can donate online by credit or debit card at www.wendoverhs2.org. Any money remaining at the end of the campaign will be given to an organisation with similar objects, or to a charity. Members of Wendover HS2 will also be coming door-to-door with the local petition against HS2 and a collecting tin.

Market stall date

The next Wendover HS2 market stalls will be held on Manor Waste on Thursdays 14 October and 18 November.

Ways to get involved

Please write to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Transport Secretary with your views on HS2. At almost £18 billion, just to build the section from London to Birmingham, can the country really afford it? Do you think the Government should have other priorities at this time?

If you are concerned about the environmental impact of HS2, please take part in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’s survey, at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/nature-of-england. DEFRA is looking at how to protect England’s natural environment in the future, and is keen to hear people’s views. The survey asks what people value about the natural environment and what can be done to help protect it.


our mailing list, at http://www.wendoverhs2.org, so we can keep you informed about HS2.

the Facebook group, Save the Chilterns: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=367587726768

Twitter: http://twitter.com/High_Speed_Rail

Display a ‘Stop HS2’ poster as prominently as you can. Posters can be obtained from the market stalls, or by emailing posters@wendoverhs2.org with your address.

Sign the petition that will be delivered to Westminster. If you can’t get to the market stall, and we miss you when we call door to door with the petition, please contact Marion Clayton on 622862.

Six myths about HS2

‘The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic’ JFK 1962

Myth 1: HS2 is ‘green’ – it’s part of the low carbon economy

Untrue: even HS2 Ltd say it doesn’t reduce CO2 emissions, but is ‘broadly neutral’. But their figures do not take account of the carbon emitted during construction and their sums flatter HS2. 360km/h trains use more than twice the power of 200km/h trains. HS2 causes new journeys (27% of total) which together with those switching from conventional rail (57%) will indisputably create more emissions.

A showcase transport investment should contribute to our target to reduce emissions by 80%. A government committed to tackling climate change should be promoting a Travel Reduction strategy.

Myth 2: Only HS2, ie a new railway, can solve the rail capacity problem

Untrue: can get 65% extra capacity with just extra rolling stock on WCML and there is massive potential on the Chiltern Line. These improvements come without disruption. Also DfT’s own alternative to HS2 (Rail Package 2) de-bottlenecks WCML, delivering capacity by running more and longer trains (for just £2bn) and gives a better (3.63) NBR than HS2. Everything can be done incrementally as it’s needed – not relying on long-term forecasts.

We do not need to build a fourth rail route from London to Birmingham.

Myth 3: HS2 is a sound investment – over £2 benefit for £1 cost (NBR = 2.7)

Untrue: commercially it loses money: it has £25.5bn of extra costs, but only £15bn of extra fares. The Net Benefit Ratio (NBR) depends on time-saving benefits that are greatly overestimated eg all time on trains is assumed to be wasted. The case is driven by huge (267%) projected increases in demand. HS2 Ltd say if demand drops more than 20% below forecast, the NBR will not reach 2 (the minimum acceptable NBR). The cost of damaging the environment and property blight on the route is excluded.

Myth 4: HS2 will deliver wider economic regional benefits

Untrue: DfT/HS2 Ltd say there are benefits (worth £3.6bn) but this is mainly from additional local transport using freed-up existing capacity not faster connectivity.

The redistributive effects will benefit London (not the regions): London is dominant: it’s seven times bigger than the next biggest city, unlike other major West European capitals that are only twice as big. DfT assumptions imply that trips to London will grow at 3 times the rate of those from London to the regions – so money will move from the regions to London.

Myth 5: HS2 will eliminate domestic air

Untrue: people don’t fly between London and Birmingham. To get enough modal shift from air travel from London to the north and Scotland (8% of HS2 journeys) HS2 Ltd assume a 178% increase in domestic air travel by 2033. They ignore the fact that domestic air traffic for London is declining, including flights to NW and Scottish Lowlands. Opportunities to displace air by HS2 have been reducing, not increasing. Experts agree that for rail journeys longer than 3hrs, air is preferred. HS2 Ltd say that rail wins some air market at 4hrs.

Myth 6: UK lacks a fast national railway network

Untrue: UK – unlike Europe – has had one for a long time.

As Eddington said, the UK has extensive fast inter-city services. We have routes capable of 200km/h (125mph) – with quicker rail journey times between the capital and the five largest cities than in other major West European countries (averaging 145 mins in UK, 151 mins Spain, 184 mins Italy, 221mins France, and 244 mins Germany).

High Speed Rail 2 and the Ramblers Association

Would you like to see just where the proposed HS2 railway line will be cut through our countryside?

Would you like to protest at the devastating effect the line will have on our ancient market town of Wendover and it’s surroundings?

Then put Saturday 13th November 2010 in your diary. The Ramblers Association, long time campaigners for the priceless footpath and bridleway heritage of this country, are celebrating their 75th Anniversary this year. Buckinghamshire Ramblers have chosen to mark the occasion by highlighting the threat to the Rights of Way network posed by the new rail line – over 100 paths will be obliterated or severed in this county alone.

A special figure of eight walk, led or self guided – free annotated map available, is open to everyone who would like to take part. It will follow local paths in the Chilterns and the Vale which will be affected by HS2. Choose you distance either 5 miles in the morning, 4.6 miles in the afternoon or a 9.6 mile all day from Wendover Railway Station commencing at 10.15 and 2.00. Come and celebrate the Ramblers many achievements and protest against the threatened despoliation of our beautiful countryside and homes.