Campaign to Protect Rural England new interactive maps

15 January, 2016

With more official data available to them, the Campaign to Protect Rural England has developed a series of interactive maps to help people understand the countryside better. Covering elements such as road noise and specific countryside protections, these maps also cover the maintenance and operational aspects of HS2, including the land requirements for Phase 1 and 2, and, for example, how the proposed planting will reduce the visual impact of the line over time.  You can access the interactive maps here:

Transport links as well housing have to be protected from increased flood risk

8 January, 2016

The West Coast Main Line is closed for a month because of flood damage caused by Storm Frank. Ninety minutes is being added to journeys between Scottish and English cities as trains are re-routed via Dumfries and Kilmarnock. Repairs are needed to Lamington Viaduct near Lockerbie, where the damage has been described as is significant by Network Rail. Re-opening of the line is expected on February 1.

Work underway to repair Lamington Viaduct

Repair Lemington Viaduct









Source: Rail Technology magazine

As flood damage increases nationally, initial concerns are understandably for those immediately affected by flooded homes and businesses. But transport systems too have taken a battering, with several bridges lost or damaged.

Some have suggested that the funding for HS2 should be switched to address new flood protection measures. That would be wrong:  HS2 should be seen as a part of a strategic response to increased flood risk.

The truth is that Britain’s wonderful inherited railway infrastructure was built in the nineteenth century when much less was known about soil mechanics and drainage. The increased rainfall of recent years is finding out the weak spots on the national rail network and unfortunately the risks are widespread – as the illustration of areas needing remedial work on the Welsh rail network shows.

Flood blog - Map












Source: Network Rail 2015

Across the network as a whole, a series of projects are underway to stabilise cuttings and embankments and improve drainage systems. In some cases – as was the case for the Oxford – Birmingham line earlier last year, lines need to be closed while the work is underway. If we were starting again today, the rail network would be built to more stringent design standards that were flood and rain damage resistant.

 The West Coast Main Line last month under 8ft of water at Carlisle.

West Coast Main Line









Source: ITV

And that’s precisely the approach being adopted with HS2. It offers the opportunity to create a much more resilient transport link between our major cities. Its design standards (as specified by HS2 Ltd, the company charged with its development and delivery) are as follows:

For resilience purposes, the proposed rail infrastructure will be designed to ensure the safe operation of trains during the 1 in 1000 (0.1%) annual probability event for all types of flooding. Although the railway drainage will be designed to have capacity up to the 1 in 100 (1%) annual probability event including an allowance for climate change, the design will also ensure that the flood level does not encroach within 1m of the track level during the 1 in 1000 (0.1%) annual probability event.

The design aim is for no increase in the risk of flooding for vulnerable receptors including residential property during the lifetime of the development, taking projected climate change impacts into account. If required, the design will mitigate loss of floodplain by creating replacement storage areas for the 1 in 100 year (1%) annual rainfall probability event, with an allowance for climate change. 

So, in plain English – HS2 will be resilient to a 1 in 1000 year flood, and the project will not increase flood risk to others up to a 1 in 100 year probability with an allowance for expected climate change.

The rationale for HS2 has not changed. But it provides an opportunity to help address the damage caused by higher rainfall and increased flood risk. HS2 will provide a new alternative line should existing lines be affected. Investment in HS2 should be seen as part of a strategic response to increased flooding, alongside the more direct measures to protect homes and businesses. It is not a potential source of funding for these measures. Cities need flood protection and to remain connected to the outside world.

©Greengauge 21, January 2016


November 2015 marks a major milestone for HS2

8 December, 2015

On November 30th 2015, the Secretary of State for Transport set out the progress being made with HS2, showing strong support in the Spending Review with a revised budget at £55.7bn in updated (2015) prices for the whole project. A raft of papers was released by DfT and HS2 Ltd in support of these announcements.

The Secretary of State identified three major new developments:
1. Confirmation of the Government’s intention to accelerate the route from Fradley in the West Midlands to Crewe (‘Phase 2a’) so that it opens six years earlier than planned, in 2027.
2. The release of Government funding to support the work of the Northern Gateway Partnership2 to develop its growth and regeneration plans.
3. Commitment to the full Y network, with Government undertaking the further technical and economic analysis required for decisions on the rest of the Phase 2 route (‘Phase 2b’) to be made in autumn 2016.

He also announced an improved proposal for the HS2 station at Leeds, which will now be integrated with the existing central Leeds City station.

Our latest publication summarises in turn the key points in relation to Phase 2a, Phase 2b and (briefly) the implications for Phase 1. Download the publication here: November 2015 marks a major milestone for HS2

Developing a HSR network to Scotland

9 November, 2015

The State of the Nation Infrastructure Scotland report launched this week is supportive of the case for bringing the line to Scotland. State of the Nation Scotland: Infrastructure 2015 focuses on the performance, resilience, capacity and condition of Scotland’s infrastructure networks. It also analyses the economic, social and environmental benefits of infrastructure.

The Scottish Government has committed to improving rail infrastructure, and the Borders Railway and Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Project, amongst other investments, are increasing network capacity and sustainability. The report states that while improvements to the Aberdeen-Inverness line and Highland lines are planned, enhanced rail connection from northern cities to the central belt is required if rail is to compete with road and aviation. The development of high speed rail between London and Scotland is the best option for increasing rail capacity, reducing journey times and encouraging shift from air to rail particularly if a journey time under 3 hours can be achieved. A joint Scottish and UK Government study exploring potential route options to Scotland will inform the Scottish Government’s objective of ensuring Scotland’s early inclusion within a high speed rail network. Further announcements on these options are expected in February 2016.

See related articles in Herald Scotland and Transport Extra

Are HS2’s stations properly located?

9 November, 2015

Are HS2’s stations properly located? Soon enough Government is due to report its position on Phase 2 of the project, the pair of limbs stretching northwards from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds. And especially in Yorkshire – in Sheffield and Leeds – there is continuing debate. Instead of the plans first drawn up in 2010/1, would it be better to have HS2 serve existing – but expanded – city centre stations instead?

It’s worth getting this right. Many English towns and cities have long suffered from poor station location decisions driven by Read on »