The country is becoming increasingly exercised about the proposed high speed railway line that will link London to Birmingham in 45 minutes. In due course it would also see journey times to the north and Scotland cut and provide the backbone to a British high speed rail network. What’s not to like?
By rights I should be heartily in favour of High Speed 2 (HS2), the name given for this new high speed railway line. It would cut the journey time to see family and bring to this country the sort of rail travel I’ve experienced in Germany and Japan. However I find my enthusiasm muted at best and at worst I’m opposed to the plans altogether.
I’m not a NIMBY, the route will not run within sight or earshot of where I live, however it will run through the Chilterns and impact many of our favourite towns, villages, countryside and walks. Furthermore, I question the absolute necessity for the route that is trying to be sold to us. Are there really no alternatives to this massive financial outlay and substantial environment impact?
Losing the peace
As a nation, there’s a good many of us who are intent on finding a peaceful corner to call home. While some are happy in the noisy bustle of the urban jungle, many others are keen for life away from it. While transport is vital, it needs to be measured and balanced with maintaining a healthy national environment; if the land is utterly criss-crossed with noisy trunk routes then there’ll be no respite from the noise. If HS2 were to closely follow existing motorway routes, as the West Coast Mainline does, then I don’t think I’d have such concerns, however much of the route cuts a swathe through some of Britain’s finest countryside. Valleys unspoilt and at peace with the sounds of their natural environment threaten being ruined with the sight of another huge concrete construction, accompanied by the intense noise of high speed trains passing every few minutes. The limited tranquility of this island will be encroached upon further, a development I cannot welcome. Continue reading