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MP slams plan for high speed rail viaduct over Lichfield

railtracksEXCLUSIVE: A two-and-a-half mile-long viaduct could be built over areas of Lichfield as part of plans for a new 250mph high-speed rail link between London and the Midlands.

The plans – unveiled by the Secretary of State for Transport Lord Adonis – would see the viaduct built over the A38, the West Coast Main Line and the A5127.

The Department of Transport’s proposals regarding the new 250mph route add:

“The viaduct would also go over the Enterprise Industrial Park just to the south of the West Coast Main Line (WCML). The preferred scheme would then run parallel to the WCML, connecting with it north of Lichfield. A grade separated junction would be required in the Elmhurst area to effect this connection.”

But Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant is angered by the proposals.

The Conservative MP has branded the planned route as “unacceptable”.

He said:

“While I welcome the principle of a High Speed Rail link between major conurbations including London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds, I am deeply concerned about the environmental impact it will have on Lichfield District and I oppose the currently proposed route.

“And let us be clear:  while the high speed rail link will be good for Britain as a whole and something we should all support in principle, the trains will not stop in Lichfield, but will whistle by at 250 miles per hour.  Journey times to London via the existing Virgin Pendolino service will be considerably quicker than taking the train to Birmingham and changing onto a high speed train down to London especially as commuters would have to travel from Birmingham New Street station to a new station in Birmingham yet to be constructed.

“The first phase of the construction, which is not due to start until 2017 and will link London to Birmingham, will have a severe impact on east Lichfield and around Elmhurst near where the West Coast Main Line passes under the A515 Lichfield to Kings Bromley road. The second phase which is not yet scheduled, and which will take the line northwards, will cause major disruption yet again to residents of Armitage who have only just had to endure years of misery caused by the widening of the West Coast Main Line.”

The Department of Transport proposals claim that although the scheme will impact on residents, many of the issues can be mitigated.

The statement added:

“As with many sections of route within the overall scheme, the section of line through the West Midlands would result in adverse impacts to the communities through which it passes, particularly due to operational noise, vibration and demolitions.

“Overall, however, the approach is preferable to an approach to Birmingham along the more densely populated western or southern routes. Noise and vibration impacts can to some extent be mitigated.”

But Mr Fabricant has claimed the environmental impact on Lichfield will be “immense”.

Michael Fabricant MP

Michael Fabricant MP

He added:

“There will be a major planning inquiry and I hope that local residents will work with me to argue against the proposed route.  Alternatives do need to be sought.  The environmental impact on east Lichfield will be immense with a 2.5 mile long viaduct going over the Enterprise Industrial Park.

“I am concerned that noise caused by trains travelling at 250mph will have an adverse affect on residents living in Boley Park.  And while I would be cautious in anticipating whether the viaduct will be visible from the historical central part of Lichfield, this is a factor of which we need to be aware.”

Residents in Armitage also face the prospect of disruption when the new high speed rail link is extended to Manchester.

The Lichfield MP explained:

“When the works continue northwards, Armitage will be affected badly once again.  While this will not start until for some years, we should be aware of it now. The work to widen the West Coast Main Line caused huge disruption to residents of Armitage and blighted property prices. It tore the heart out of local communities which have only just begun to settle down. It is unreasonable and unfair to expect my constituents to have to go through all that misery for a second time especially as the works for the high speed link will be even more disruptive than that for the West Coast Main line work.

“I am urging the District and City Councils together with local residents to unite with me to find an alternative route to mitigate the detrimental effect on our community and which we can propose to the Planning Inquiry when it comes about.”

A public consultation will take place regarding the new rail link, with any work not expected to begin before 2017.

Lord Adonis explained that the new rail was needed to cope with the country’s increasing transport needs.

He said:

“Over the next 20 to 30 years the UK will require a step-change in transport capacity and connectivity both to promote and respond to long-term economic growth.

“High speed rail would be by far the most effective way to achieve this step-change, offering a balance of capacity, connectivity and sustainability benefits unmatched by any other option.”

Detailed maps for the route can be found on the HS2 website.

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  1. Roger Robinson

    12th March, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Personally Im in favour of the high speed rail and think it is something this country needs.
    Unfortunately many of the areas it passes through wont directly benefit from the HSR (although they will indirectly as other train wont be so busy) and it would appear lichfield is one of those areas.

    I would also hazard a guess that some areas on the route have had less time and money proposed for them possibly because they are not politically important. For according to the route map the HS2 rail ine will pass straight through part of the Britannia Industrial Estate I realise the train line need to be as straight as possible for high speed rail but I think something could have been done here.

    Lichfield is a safe conservative seat and the planners hired to design the route by Labour may have spent less time on this area than others. However thats not to say if there was a conservative government in power they would be any less bothered as they can probably afford to lose a few votes here.

    Michael may say he will campaign but on grand scale national projects like this the which ever government is in power wont be able to sort every problem out with out the project becoming unfeasible expensive.

    Therefore the Lichfield district needs increase its political capital and surely the way to do this is to become a swinging seat. If the district swung between labour and the tories then it would become more important in national politics as it would become more important in deciding general elections.

    To do this some sort of the local organisation should be set up to attempt to manage voting in the district to get as close to 50% to each party as possible.

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  3. Sabcat Printing

    12th March, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    We could do a t-shirt. Give Mickey more clout. Vote Labour

  4. David

    15th March, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    yet again Fabricant looking at the bleak side of things with him as MP lichfield will keep suffering and suffering

  5. Streethay Swampy

    17th March, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Micky ,
    Noted your coments ““I am concerned that noise caused by trains travelling at 250mph will have an adverse affect on residents living in Boley Park” What about Streethay? What about the other areas of Lichfield that will be blighted? Take a look at the map, the viaduct will destroy the area. What a choice Streethay residents have… 850+ new houses, a railway viaduct or both!

  6. Streehay Swampy

    17th March, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Sebcat… I’ll have a T Shirt

  7. Adam

    18th March, 2010 at 8:36 am

    To be fair, Michael’s Facebook note does say “Trains travelling at 250mph could cause noise problems in Boley Park, Streethay and elsewhere.” As Streethay Swampy has indicated, Streethay residents have now got several major proposals affecting them: The extension of Britannia Industrial Estate, 850+ new houses, an elevated high-speed railway viaduct and a major link-road.

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  9. Rob

    30th March, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    As you have already voiced your objection to the HS2 line running adjacent to Lichfield and also through Streethay where the land has been identified for new housing development inline with the required housing numbers needed for Lichfield District.
    Would you be in favour of the housing going at Streethay if this meant that the HS2 line was moved from its existing proposed route?
    Do you agree that housing at Streethay would be a better option for Streethay and for Lichfield as a whole than a 700 meter viaduct across the area ?

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  12. Greytide

    9th July, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    There have been many arguments about the positioning of the HSR but very few on the actual return on investment for it. It would cost a huge amount in order to save very little time unless you are in the right place. It would give a quick route between B’ham & London centre but would be of dubious benefit once you move outside the immediate areas. I can currently get from Lichfield to London in 1h 17 mins (approx). If I had to go to Birmingham, it would take me an extra 30 mins plus the time between arrival & departure of the HS train. Would this really be better?
    If the money (some) was spent on making sure that the current trains were able to go at their maximum speed, they would provide a much better return on investment.

    The argument that HS trains have worked well in other countries is invalid as they are covering larger distances in larger countries with lower population densities. The disruption to communities is much less. For HS trains to be viable they have to go long distances between stops. The UK is just not really suitable because of the short (relative) distances between populated areas. HS Trains would be of viable as a timesaving between London & Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow so long as they were direct. However, I would suggest that they would probably not be financially viable as there would not be enough passengers on a daily basis to get a suitable return on the investement.

  13. Nick Lamb

    29th August, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I am a chartered planning & development surveyor with many years experience promoting development of large mixed use areas and all their attendant issues; I now run a public consultation firm aimed at getting the local voice heard – I am also a Lichfield resident and adore my city.

    I echo Michael Fabricant’s views regarding the benefits such links could bring but am deeply concerned about the impact of the route as it runs close to and through Lichfield – it brings few if any benefits to our city.

    Lichfield has a huge amount to offer and I for one have a vision for a city that is rich in heritage and culture, business, entertainment and leisure as well as an awesome place to live with its parks retail offer and historic buildings and history that pre-dates the Doomsday book.

    It has excellent road links to all parts of the UK but its rail offer is limited. A stop at Lichfield for HS2 would provide the catalyst necessary to really enable this vision to be realised and enhance the city’s economy and sustainability credentials.

    So let us lobby and argue for something that will provide greater benefit as what is being proposed ‘uses’ Lichfield as a convenient ‘pass-through’ and has total disregard for its residents, wider community, bio-diversity and integrity.