The Real HS2 route is due to be published shortly by the company charged by the Government to look into it. Others have pranced about waving maps, current railway owner Network Rail (a private company that managed to fund a speculative report), being the latest.
Chartered Civil Engineer Andrew McNaugton is a well travelled authority on railways and is the (real) High Speed 2 engineer, so his words as reported by fortnightly magazine RAIL, carry some weight.
The route, soon to be published, would see Manchester, Newcastle, and London, connected to Birmingham. The curves, however, to have a radius of 7.2 kilometres, would mean the new railway would not suit chasing existing motorway alignments. The rationale of the route, favouring a minimum of stops and junctions, anyway lines it up as an open country enterprise.
For trains to stop, and others to pass, any junction will have to extend back a huge distance, again to achieve that radius of 7.2 kilometres, in the same way as a slip road on a motorway runs parallel over a great length.
Putting all of these criteria together, a Birmingham station might well be in the motorway corridor near the ‘National Exhibition Centre’ with one route going somewhere near theM6 Toll Road to the North West, the other aiming to the North East. A station nearer Birmingham’s City Centre might be possible but finding and exit to the North and finding land without major demolition, presents a challenge. The station location is, of course, speculative, but maybe word will be out very soon.
Less open to debate is the shortage of money that might mean that the high speed railway is never built. If HS2 is not built, our existing railways will have to be botched about to carry ever more traffic.
There is an art to botching and the earlier custodians of our current centre to centre railway, have tried their best. Botching, sadly, is an expensive way of doing things. Network Rail (NR), constantly chided for having expensive projects, is trying to do projects whilst there is a railway there. In this way, NR is trying to replaster and redecorate with the house fully occupied. NR is trying their best, but the task is impossible: plans to bypass slow lengths of railway (such as through Stafford) and to run non-stop through many stations, are to suit fairly high speed trains but ruin the railway for door to door journeys.
NR is a private company and do what they want, but make an elegant pretence of consulting with the public. It may be fun to watch the publication of the real High Speed 2 railway route, but the decisions in the real world lie with NR and their route Utilisation Strategy (RUS). The RUS for the West Midlands is now being written with no plans for better local train services for the West Midlands, and that, surely, is worth asking Network Rail about.
It could be that Network Rail’s efforts will be the nearest we will see to high speed rail and that they need to be supported in their efforts, with direction and guidance.
Contact them at Network Rail, Kings Place, 90 York Way London N1 9AG