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Monday, June 4, 2012

High Speed 2 (HS2) Route

As proposed in March 2010, the line would run from London Euston, mainly in tunnel, to an interchange with Crossrail west of London Paddington, then along the New North Main Line (Acton-Northolt Line) past West Ruislip and alongside the Chiltern Main Line with a 2.5 miles (4.0 km) viaduct over the Grand Union Canal and River Colne, and then from the M25 to Amersham in a new 6 miles (9.7 km) tunnel. After emerging from the tunnel, the line would run parallel to the existing A413 road and London to Aylesbury Line, through the 29 miles (47 km) wide Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, passing close by Great Missenden to the east, alongside Wendover immediately to the west, then on to Aylesbury. After Aylesbury, the line would run alongside the Aylesbury to Verney Junction line, joining it north of Quainton Road and then striking out to the north-west across open countryside through North Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, South Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire. A number of alignments were studied, and in September 2010 HS2 Ltd set out recommendations for altering the course at certain locations.

In December 2010 the Transport Secretary announced several amendments to the line of route aimed at mitigating vibration, noise or visual impact. These changes include, at Primrose Hill, north London, moving the tunnel 100 metres (330 ft) further north, and in west London reducing the width of the "Northolt Corridor". It is proposed to lower the alignment and create a 900 metres (3,000 ft) "green tunnel" in Buckinghamshire at South Heath. At nearby Amersham where two footpaths would also be otherwise severed, at Chipping Warden, Northamptonshire and Burton Green, Warwickshire, "green bridges" would be constructed. Elsewhere, the route alignment would be moved away from the settlements of Brackley, Northamptonshire, Ladbroke and Stoneleigh in Warwickshire and Lichfield in southern Staffordshire, and also from the Grade I listed buildings, Hartwell House and Edgcote House, in Northamptonshire."Changes to the HS2 proposed line of route" (Press release). HS2 Ltd. 20 December 2010.

In January 2012 Justine Greening Secretary of State for Transport announced further revisions to the Phase 1 route. The key revisions included, a new 2.7 miles (4.3 km) tunnel at Northolt avoiding the Chilterns Line and mitigating the impact in the Ruislip area. A realignment of the route and extension of the continuous tunnel, originally from the M25 to Amersham, further on to near Little Missenden. At Wendover and nearby South Heath, extension to the green tunnels to reduce impact on local communities. Additionally, an extension to the green tunnel beside Chipping Warden and Aston Le Walls, and realigning the route to avoid heritage sites around Edgcote. The revised route plan would comprise 22.5 miles (36.2 km) in a tunnel or a green tunnel, compared to 14.5 miles (23.3 km) which it was clarified was a 55% increase in tunnelling compared to that set out for the route in the original consultation. Overall, 79 miles (127 km) of the 140 miles (230 km) route will be in tunnels or cuttings while 40 miles (64 km) will be on viaducts or embankments, a reduction of 10 miles (16 km) from that in the route set out in the original consultation documents.

Heathrow access

While in opposition, the Conservative Party had stated that, if elected to government, it would go forward with a high-speed line connecting London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, with a long-term aim of linking to Scotland, as well as other English cities."Conservative rail review: Getting the best for passengers" (PDF). Conservative Party. Long Term Strategy, section 5.1 High Speed Rail, pp.10-11."Getting the best for rail passengers" (Press release). Conservative Party. 11 February 2009.

Consultants Arup had previously suggested in Heathrow Hub Arup Submission to HS2 that a 200-acre (81 ha) site at Iver, north-east of the intersection of the M25 and M4, could house a railway station of 12 or more platforms, as well as a coach and bus station and an airport terminal. Under this proposal, the high-speed line would then follow a different route to Birmingham, running parallel to existing motorways and railways as with HS1 in Kent.Arup (15 April 2010). "A submission to Lord Mawhinney's Review".Arup's proposal was supported by the Conservatives in their 2009 policy paper, which envisaged connections to cities on the Great Western main line (Bristol and Cardiff) as well as high-speed connections both to the new high-speed line to the north and to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and continental Europe.

According to Lord Mawhinney's report, the Heathrow station should be directly beneath Heathrow Central station (not at Iver, see Heathrow Hub) and the London terminus for HS2 should be at Old Oak Common, not Euston."High speed rail access to Heathrow: a report by Lord Mawhinney". Department for Transport. 21 July 2010. The "Heathrow Hub" plan was initially supported by the Conservative Party"Shadow Secretary confirms support for Heathrow Hub Plan". ARUP. 26 February 2009. but did not form part of the final consultation plan."Government drops Heathrow Hub option for spur on High Speed 2 route". New Civil Engineer (London). 20 December 2010.

In December 2010 it was announced that a high-speed connection with Heathrow Airport would be built as part of the second phase of the project, and that until then connections would be made at Old Oak Common, where High Speed 2 would have an interchange station with the Heathrow Express and Crossrail.
Phase 2 – West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds
The corridor of the "Y" route extension to Manchester and Leeds from Birmingham currently preferred by the government.

The second phase planned is a "Y" route with separate branches to Manchester and Leeds after Birmingham. The consultation on the route is planned to take place in 2014, and the line is expected to be built by 2033.

The route to the West Midlands will be the first stage of a line to Scotland,and passengers travelling to or from Scotland will be able to use through trains with a saving of 45 minutes from day one. It was recommended by a Parliament select committee on HS2 in November 2011 that a statutory clause should be in the bill that will guarantee HS2 being constructed beyond Birmingham so that the economic benefits are spread further.
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