LETTERS: Wakefield readers debate Hs2

Campaigners from the Crofton Against HS2 group, who are fighting plans to send trains through their village, meeting Wakefield Council leader Peter Box at Wakefield town hall.
Campaigners from the Crofton Against HS2 group, who are fighting plans to send trains through their village, meeting Wakefield Council leader Peter Box at Wakefield town hall.
1
Have your say

A petition against the proposed route of HS2 has been organised by Crofton Against HS2 and has already been signed by more than 50 residents.

It reads: “We, the undersigned residents and representatives of Crofton, are horrified and disgusted at the plans of HS2 Limited to destroy large parts of our village by the siting of the High Speed Two train track through our community.

We oppose the siting of the track and the depot here.

We are furious that no consultation was made with our community or elected representatives, prior to the July 7 announcement.

We will fight to stop the construction of the track here in Crofton.

We call on David Higgins, from HS2 Limited, and Patrick McLoughlin, the transport minister, to meet with us to hear alternative proposals to re-route the track out of our village into unoccupied farmland to the east and west of our 9,000-strong community.

We call on council leader Peter Box and Wakefield Council, and HS2 Limited to carry out a full Environmental Impact Assessment and full assessment on the human and business impact on our community.

We call on our elected member of Parliament, MP Jon Trickett, to visit Crofton and immediately table a question in the House of Commons at the first opportunity.

HS2 Limited has blighted our village and we demand compensation for loss of house prices for families who have purchased or are selling property.

We demand HS2 Limited meet with us at the first opportunity to understand that Crofton has been grossly affected by this unnecessary targeting without consultation or considering - for the damage to the people, environment and businesses in the village.

We express solidarity with other affected communities in Mexborough, Hemsworth, Altofts, London and elsewhere across England.

We will work to see this £80bn vanity project is scrapped, or changed to that ordinary people’s lives are not wrecked, in order for rich people to travel faster.”

Jonathan Pile

Crofton Against HS2

HS2

Project is not thought through

Improvements are needed to the rail network, but the present proposals show that the strategy has not been thought through, is centred on London and does not meet the needs of the rest of the country.

Originally HS2 was all about speed.

That emphasis has now changed and capacity is what is being pushed to justify it.

In 2010, the then Labour government changed the southern terminus from Kings Cross/St Pancras, where HS1 also terminates, to Euston which has very poor onward transport links.

The chaos that will ensue when HS2 opens is now being used to justify the building of the proposed Crossrail Phase 2 to solve London’s transport problems.

I can see some merit in a new north-south line if it were to benefit the north as well as London, say by entering London from the east after joining HS1 at Stratford, giving direct access to the Channel Tunnel, or with links to Heathrow and the southern ports.

The financial benefits of the proposals are also rather dubious, based on predictions of trains running full every few minutes.

When HS1 opened, the passenger numbers were about 1/3 of those predicted.

The last time that I saw a breakdown of predicted costs there were uncosted items, such as improvements to Junction 34 of the M1 at Meadowhall when the station was proposed there.

The train sets and inflation weren’t included, and the estimates for diversion of utilities looked extremely light.

The addition of extra sections in tunnel have increased the cost and will reduce the running speed, casting further doubt on the economics.

There are the makings of another Concorde – technically brilliant, but a political project that will be a financial disaster demanding a permanent subsidy to keep it going.

There is talk of job creation, and I am sure that the German tunnelling machine builders, the German and French train makers and Spanish/German/French construction companies will be among the main beneficiaries – as happened with Crossrail and other recent projects.

If it is just extra capacity that is needed there must be cheaper and quicker ways of providing it.

I am sure that it would be much preferred by the people of our district if a serious attempt was made to improve the local commuter services with ticket prices at affordable levels.

That would be a much better way to use a little of the fund that the government seems to have for spending on projects which benefit the London area.

Coun David Dews, UKIP

St Paul’s Walk,

Wakefield

HS2

Sensational scaremongering

Let me state at the outset that I have no particular feeling either for or against HS2, as I live in St Johns, just outside the city of Wakefield, and will not be affected, and will probably be dead by the time it’s finished anyway.

What does bother me is the sensational scaremongering of those who do want to protest.

So let’s put the fundamentals in a sensible perspective first.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but railways can’t just bulldoze their way across the country because all sorts of things get in the way.

Neither do railways like sharp corners or steep gradients, so a compromise always has to be found, minimising the difficulties and using the lie of the land to best advantage in terms of cost and directness.

The old railway builders knew this, and that is why, if you care to look around, the railway is only rarely intrusive; it usually sits in sympathy with the surroundings.

Nowadays, with good architects and 21st century civil engineering, there is no reason why a modern line cannot achieve a similar sympathy.

It may be useful to draw a comparison with road-building, which is not under the same constraints and can therefore barrel its way across the countryside regardless of obstacles.

In fact, a two-track railway line plus all the electrical infrastructure can be built within a width of no more than 50 feet or so - far less than a six-lane motorway, and probably about the same width as the Eastern Relief Road.

Now for the objections. MP Jon Trickett says the line will have ‘dire consequences for the local people and our communities’.

Coun Peter Box says it ‘could be devastating’.

Rather sweeping statements with no explanation or details as to what either of them means, so perhaps they would care to elaborate?

Mr Trickett and Coun Box also both say that ‘it brings little benefit to our communities’.

Well of course not. It isn’t designed to do so. It is simply a high-speed connection between London and Leeds, which would lose it’s ‘raison d’etre’ if it stopped anywhere else.

Coun Box also predicts that our existing local services will be diminished by the new line’s construction. Again, maybe he could expand on these thoughts and tell us something more definite.

Jenny Layfield, of the National Trust, is worried about the railway being ‘alien’ to the Nostell estate, polluting the lakes and filling the house with dust.

It makes me wonder whether or not she’s ever seen a high-speed electric train - maybe she simply suffered a bad dream.

Incidentally, it may be appropriate to point out that the Nostell estate itself was crafted quite artificially in the mid-18th century, and is certainly not a natural landscape.

Someone from Crofton used the phrase ‘thundering through the village’ - well, I’m sorry to be a killjoy, but fast electrics go with a hum and a swish, that’s all.

Martin Whitaker

Richmond Road,

St John’s,

Wakefield