Hammond’s rail

by Jeremy on 26-Dec-2010

Bernie Douglas, the Chairman of VoxOpp (Villages of Oxfordshire Opposing HS2) said, “We are amazed at Philip Hammond’s claims made in his interview with the Sunday Telegraph yesterday (12 December 2010).  Last week he was trying to rally support but this week he is having an ill-considered snipe at people who dare to oppose his views, in particular all the people in the villages and towns along the proposed route.”

On 30 November Transport secretary Philip Hammond was working to drum up support in Birmingham for HS2, the planned high speed railway between Birmingham and London.  He told a conference at the NEC that the non-stop 250 mph train services would run between a new station at Eastside and Euston in about forty minutes (a figure, incidentally, which is some nine minutes faster than either he or HS2 Ltd had previously claimed.  Mr Hammond urged business leaders to make the case “loudly and clearly” for high speed rail, adding that opponents of the scheme were well organised and amply funded.
Having felt this need to try to exhort the few cities in Britain likely to benefit from HS2 to get up and be counted the Transport Secretary continued his seemingly confrontational campaign this week to force the plan through by giving a PR interview to the Sunday Telegraph.   In the interview Mr. Hammond dismissed any suggestion that the link would rip up vast tracts of beautiful countryside.  He said, “This is not some Constable country.  It’s following the existing transport corridor as closely as possible . . . ”.  

His lack of concern to those affected by the planned route is apparently exceeded by his ignorance of the proposed route.  Leaving aside the fact that much of the land which HS2 would despoil is farmland, and is rich in hay, trees, cows, horses and people working in the fields – all favourites of Constable – his claim regarding the planned line as following, “the existing transport corridor” is ludicrous.  It also casts doubt on exactly what he did when he previously claimed that he inspected the whole route personally.

The planned line might indeed broadly follow the old Great Central line on a map but Hammond’s claim ignores the fact that that corridor quickly disappeared when the railway closed nearly 50 years ago.  There are some old bridge supports and cuttings (about 20 feet wide) to be seen here and there along the route but mostly cuttings have been filled in to bring them up to adjacent land levels, under-bridges have been filled in, viaducts have been demolished and housing estates built in their place, and so on.  Although the timescale may be different, to claim this is an existing transport corridor is like saying “We can build a motorway here because it used to be a Roman road and is therefore an existing transport corridor”.

Hammond went on to say, “There will be a group of people who are objectors primarily because they have got a financial interest they want to protect.  Once they are satisfied they will get adequate monetary compensation their concerns will be somewhat allayed”.  The implied rebuke is a bit much coming from someone who, according to a certain Channel 4 programme aired recently, takes all steps to look after his own assets very carefully indeed. 

Bernie Douglas, the Chairman of VoxOpp (Villages of Oxfordshire Opposing HS2) said, “We are amazed at Philip Hammond’s claims made in his interview with the Sunday Telegraph yesterday (12 December 2010).  Last week he was trying to rally support but this week he is having an ill-considered snipe at people who dare to oppose his views, in particular all the people in the villages and towns along the proposed route.”

 

On 30 November Transport secretary Philip Hammond was working to drum up support in Birmingham for HS2, the planned high speed railway between Birmingham and London.  He told a conference at the NEC that the non-stop 250 mph train services would run between a new station at Eastside and Euston in about forty minutes (a figure, incidentally, which is some nine minutes faster than either he or HS2 Ltd had previously claimed.  Mr Hammond urged business leaders to make the case “loudly and clearly” for high speed rail, adding that opponents of the scheme were well organised and amply funded.

Having felt this need to try to exhort the few cities in Britain likely to benefit from HS2 to get up and be counted the Transport Secretary continued his seemingly confrontational campaign this week to force the plan through by giving a PR interview to the Sunday Telegraph.   In the interview Mr. Hammond dismissed any suggestion that the link would rip up vast tracts of beautiful countryside.  He said, “This is not some Constable country.  It’s following the existing transport corridor as closely as possible . . . ”.  

 

His lack of concern to those affected by the planned route is apparently exceeded by his ignorance of the proposed route.  Leaving aside the fact that much of the land which HS2 would despoil is farmland, and is rich in hay, trees, cows, horses and people working in the fields – all favourites of Constable – his claim regarding the planned line as following, “the existing transport corridor” is ludicrous.  It also casts doubt on exactly what he did when he previously claimed that he inspected the whole route personally.

 

The planned line might indeed broadly follow the old Great Central line on a map but Hammond’s claim ignores the fact that that corridor quickly disappeared when the railway closed nearly 50 years ago.  There are some old bridge supports and cuttings (about 20 feet wide) to be seen here and there along the route but mostly cuttings have been filled in to bring them up to adjacent land levels, under-bridges have been filled in, viaducts have been demolished and housing estates built in their place, and so on.  Although the timescale may be different, to claim this is an existing transport corridor is like saying “We can build a motorway here because it used to be a Roman road and is therefore an existing transport corridor”.

 

Hammond went on to say, “There will be a group of people who are objectors primarily because they have got a financial interest they want to protect.  Once they are satisfied they will get adequate monetary compensation their concerns will be somewhat allayed”.The implied rebuke is a bit much coming from someone who, according to a certain Channel 4 programme aired recently, takes all steps to look after his own assets very carefully indeed.

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