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19/12/2012
This is Good News. Lets hope it gets better.


Times dateline 19/12/2012.
Tories attack 'flawed' high-speed rail plan.

Pressure was last night heaped on the Government over the future of the £32 billion high-speed railway link from London to Birmingham and beyond when Conservative transport experts damned the plan as disastrously flawed.
After a fortnight of embarrassing revelations during a judicial review of HS2, the Conservative Transport Group is urging the Government to go back to the drawing board.
The group, a special-interest arm of the Conservative Party, is hugely critical of the Department for Transport and its subsidiary HS2 Ltd in a letter that Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, is due to receive today.
The letter, seen by The Times, says that the DfT and HS2 Ltd have already lost the argument because their plans which affect voters in the Tory shires of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire have whipped up so much animosity.
The letter, signed by Graham Nalty, of the transport group, states: "The route chosen is the wrong route for the simple reason that it has polarised opinion and seriously damaged the case for high-speed rail with the public. The technical issue of whether or not it is the best route for the highest line speed loses all its value when set against the massive organised opposition to HS2.
It continues: "Much of the political support for HS2 comes from people who see HS2 as the opportunity to enjoy through trains from their regional centre to the European continent. Northern business people seeking to visit new export markets want the improved access to Heathrow (or whatever might replace it as a national hub) for long-distance international flights on routes not available from Birmingham or Manchester. This constituency of high-speed rail supporters is treated with contempt by HS2 Ltd.
The letter says that the HS2 route and station modelling is "unsound and disastrously flawed. Plans for so-called parkway stations means that northern cities will not be directly served by HS2, which instead will interchange at new locations. It heaps scorn on the plan to enter Birmingham at Curzon Street station, rather than New Street, meaning that there will be a ten-minute interchange for passengers rather than a cross-platform connection. The Conservative Transport Group, like the Bow Group, the Tory think tank, believes that the main southern interchange for HS2 must, as things stand, be Heathrow.
It admits that if the Government is to delay a decision on future Heathrow expansion until 2015, then a decision on HS2 cannot be made until then either.
The group also sees merit in the proposals of the Railfuture lobby group, which says that HS2 should go north from London Euston and follow the M1 corridor.
The Tory grassroots attack on HS2 follows a chastening time for the DfT during the past fortnight, with five separate judicial reviews brought by 15 local authorities and 70 affected residential groups. The groups have accused the DfT and HS2 Ltd the body set up to present legislation for the new railway by the end of next year of a flawed consultation.
The hearings were told that property prices along the route had fallen by as much as 50 per cent; were shown previously unseen data which found that some peak-time trains on the existing Euston-to-Birmingham route were only 50 per cent full; and heard that by some estimates HS2s wider economic benefit could only be 30p for every £1 spent.

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