Media Library

  • Thursday, 2 February 2017
    Massive Increase in HS2 Tunnelling Through English Countryside

    The equivalent of the Channel Tunnel will be bulldozed through England’s most scenic and picturesque countryside if HS2 progresses as planned, campaigners have warned.

    New documents reveal that a slew of technical and design mistakes has led to 31 miles of tunnelling work now being required for the flawed project, adding an extra £3bn to the price tag.

    That is up from the 12 miles initially stated back in 2010 – 31 miles is the same length as the tunnel which links Britain to mainland Europe.

    High Speed UK (HSUK), a campaign group of technical experts which is championing an alternative high-speed rail plan for Britain, said that the cost and safety implications of the tunnelling work had not been fully understood – or was in some cases being ignored – by politicians.

    Plans from 2010 detailed that just over half of the original planned tunnelling was in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for the main 6 mile Amersham tunnel – and the tunnels connecting Euston station to Old Oak Common accounted for 4.5 miles.

    However, due to breathtaking incompetency in route selection and design, HS2 Ltd, the company set up to deliver the UK’s biggest ever infrastructure project, has been forced to add an additional 19 miles of tunnel to their plans. Astonishingly, only 2 miles of the 19-mile increase is due to environmental concerns. That leaves over 17 miles of highly expensive tunnel to be introduced that will permanently scar unrivalled areas of beautiful countryside.

    HSUK has provided plans for an alternative route from London to Birmingham that would only use 9 miles of tunnel – resulting in substantial cost savings and also avoiding the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in its entirety.

    Campaign Co-ordinator Jack Irvine said: “Since the scheme was first proposed, it has been beset by technical or cost problems that have been the outcome of poor planning and design. More diligence and thought during HS2’s short design process would have identified far better and much cheaper options.

    “The problem with putting trains through tunnels is twofold. Firstly, the expense of excavating massive holes through the earth is extremely expensive. External estimates put HS2 tunnel at £160m per mile. Secondly, the safety issues of running 250mph trains through long stretches of dark, hard to access tunnel are manifold.

    “It is not too late for the government to assess the better options that exist if it wants to achieve high speed rail. Indeed, a reassessment at this juncture is likely to save them considerable embarrassment when politicians wake up to the folly of the current technical plans.”

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