Michael Fabricant is backing a new “macro” route in and out of Birmingham which is environmentally superior to the existing route. This has been submitted to the Department for Transport as part of its Environment Consultation and will be Petitioned before Parliament. These plans are in addition to the mitigation plans he has backed to the existing route for Phase 1 (up to where the HS2 connects to the existing West Coast Mainline just north of Lichfield).
“I have already supported a plan proposed by my HS2 Phase 1 Working Group and backed by Staffordshoire County Council which seeks to mitigate the effects of HS2 by tunnelling under the A38 near Streethay and lowering the overall height of the line both to the south and the north of the A38” says Michael Fabricant. “I call this the ‘Micro Route’ as it only changes the height – and not the direction – of the route which HS2 has proposed. I mentioned at the time the ‘Micro Route’ was submitted that I would also be supporting a preferable major change to the direction of route.”
“This major change to the route of HS2 as it approaches Birmingham from the south and exiting from the north of Birmingham towards Manchester has been proposed by my HS2 Phase 2 Working Group which I call the ‘Macro Route’ and which I prefer, though I recognise that HS2 Limited are less likely to adopt it” says Michael. “However, this would form part of the Petition to Parliament if the HS2 Bill is not defeated in Parliament in April. The Parliamentary Committee may be more open to major changes of this kind.
“This proposal makes major changes to the route both south and north of Birmingham utilising existing transport corridors and brownfield sites where possible and so is much less environmentally damaging. Phase 2 has already attempted to do just this where possible, but the original route for Phase 1 does not. If the Phase 1 route goes ahead as planned, there will be inevitable environmental damage in areas impacted by the Phase 2 alignment, particularly north of Lichfield in what the Environmental Statement itself acknowledges to be an ‘historic 18th century agrarian landscape.’
“Three alternative routes to Curzon Street Station in Birmingham from the south and northwards are proposed.”
A. Into Curzon St along the line of the existing Coventry / Birmingham rail route, joining it at Reeves Green. A route north eastwards towards Curzon Street would follow industrial, non-residential land between Marston Green and the Birmingham Airport curtilage, rejoining the ‘preferred’ route south of the M6/M42 intersection and trending north westwards along the A5/M6Toll alignment and thence northwards to Crewe and Manchester. A ‘delta’ junction would thus be formed by this northerly exit route, with Birmingham Airport at its centre and supporting interconnections with the airport, Birmingham International rail station and the wider region.
B. Into Curzon St along the line of the A45: from Hampton in Arden, across the M42 and onto the A45 alignment south of Birmingham Airport to connect with Birmingham International railway station. It would leave the A45 alignment at Small Heath to track north westwards into Curzon St, and out along the route described above.
C. Into Curzon Street along either of the alternatives above, and out along the alignment of the A38 to the M6, then along the M6 alignment to Junction 7, skirting to the east of Walsall and thence over brownfield and mined-over land to cross the A5/M6Toll at Churchbridge.
Michael adds “My own personal preference is for a combination Routes B and C which would avoid Lichfield and Burntwood.
“In any of these alternative routes, the end of Phase 1 would move northwards towards Stafford, obviating a perceived need for a spur at Hanch to link with the WCML and for the WCML works around Rugeley Trent Valley Station towards Colton.”
“The route in the inner Birmingham conurbation would be through tunnels as is the case on the approach to Manchester city centre.
“This is not nimby-ism!
“It is important to note that when considered overall in the context of Phase 2 as well as Phase 1, these routes are straighter than HS2’s ‘preferred’ route which shows a marked north easterly bulge around Lichfield. Given the likely need for elevated sections through urban, suburban and industrial areas and the fact that high speeds would not be possible here in parts anyway, the time and cost savings for a shorter line and the opportunities for redevelopment of brownfield sites would be significant.”
The full response of the Phase 2 Working Group (excluding maps) can be downloaded as a pdf here.