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HS2 moves a step closer

16 May 2013  •  Author: Department for Transport (DfT)

HS2 moves a step closer with publication of draft ‘Environmental statement’ and design refinements consultations.

Draft ‘Environmental statement’ and design refinements consultations launched.

The first phase of HS2, the planned high speed railway between London, the West Midlands, Manchester and Leeds moved another step forward today (16 May 2013) with the launch of consultations on the project’s draft Environmental statement (ES) and proposed design refinements .

The draft ES sets out HS2 Ltd’s current thinking on plans to integrate the line into the landscape using the very latest design and construction methods, both during building and operation.

The design refinements consultation is an opportunity to comment on the most significant proposed changes to the design of phase one of the scheme between London and Birmingham. The refinements, some of which have been made following representations from individuals and organisations, help make the railway the very best it can be.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

“HS2 is absolutely vital for this country, providing a huge economic boost which will generate a return on investment that will continue paying back for generations to come. But you cannot build a new railway line without causing some disruption.

“What we can and will do is ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum by using the very latest design and construction methods.

“We are confident that through continued hard work we can ensure that many of the feared effects of HS2 never materialise. We also know that the best design for the scheme can only be reached with the input of local communities, environmental groups and all levels of government.

“Publication of these plans is a crucial next step and will ensure that construction of the first phase can begin within the next four years.”

The draft ES and proposed design refinements are open to full public consultation with responses required by 11 July. Consultation on the draft ES is not a statutory requirement but the government recognises the importance of ensuring widespread engagement on the scheme. Its publication is an important stage in the project as it helps prepare the formal ‘Environmental statement’ that is essential for the Hybrid Bill – effectively the planning application for the project – due to be published later in 2013.

HS2 Ltd is seeking to build on the best practice of constructing and running a high speed network, established both on HS1 and abroad. It is looking to use technology unique to Europe in helping to cut the noise of high speed trains, such as eliminating the gaps between train carriages to cut noise as they travel and boost their aerodynamic efficiency.

Drawing on Japanese expertise, HS2 trains could also be fitted with wheel farings, like on a Citroen DS car, to cut the noise made by the wheels on rails – the biggest source of noise on any electrified railway.

Around 70% of the line’s surface sections between London and the West Midlands will be insulated by cuttings, landscaping and fencing, helping it to harmonise with the landscape.

Earth removed for track laying could be used beside it as noise-absorbing bunds, cutting the amount of earth that has to be transported and therefore reducing the number of tipper truck journeys which create congestion, disruption and pollution.

The most significant proposed design refinements being consulted on for phase one include tunnelling under Ealing and Northolt in north west London, and at Bromford in the West Midlands. Also published for consultation are revised proposals to redevelop and improve Euston Station to accommodate high speed trains for HS2 without having to knock down and rebuild the entire station.

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