HS2 Update – February 2021

I’ve been reviewing what has been achieved during the last year of the WPC campaign for a tunnel past Wendover. We have with our allies and friends provoked questions in the House, informed Committees of State and challenged the DfT and HS2 Ltd. Here are a few of the highlights…

1. We said that changing the design to a tunnel could be done with a Transport & Works Act Order. (TWAO). The minister said that he couldn’t “reopen the act”. The government then used a TWAO to tunnel at Bromford.

2. We said that tunnelling past Wendover saves money. (£300million). The minister said our proposal cost more. Government states that replacing a surface route with tunnel at Bromford saves £70 million. Tunnelling saves money, as we said.

3. We said that tunnelling is faster and would cause no delay to the project. The government said that project delay is a reason to refuse our tunnel option. In an FOI response government documents that any delay caused by obtaining a TWAO would be caught up during construction.

4. We said that when costs escalate, noise mitigation would reduce. HS2 Ltd said our fears were unfounded. Noise levels now planned for Wendover exceed WHO limits and those reported to Parliament. Mitigation is being limited based on cost concerns.

5. We said that slab track would be required for the project. HS2 Ltd said our concern had no basis. HS2 Ltd has now specified slab track.

6. HS2 Ltd said the HS2 noise prediction model was more accurate than the HS1 model. We were sceptical. HS2 Ltd now speak of HS1 model uncertainty for HS2 model results.

7. We said it is common for tunnels to have been constructed in similar geology to Wendover’s. HS2 Ltd said that the geology past Wendover is not suitable for mining tunnels. The DfT recently released Geological Data confirming our view.

8. DfT said that EKFB engineers repeatedly confirmed that mining a tunnel past Wendover was dangerous. We asked for confirmation. EKFB cannot confirm that they have provided that advice.

9. We said that mud on roads from HS2 construction was a safety issue. HS2 said they would put controls in place. Ask residents of Bowood Lane. Mud, damage and trespass but no controls.

While we continue to push for a tunnel, because it’s the right answer for Wendover and for HS2, we are also conscious that as construction starts so does the disruption for you. We are working hard to ensure that HS2/EKFB become the good neighbours that they claim to want to be.
Tom Walsh