A campaign group fighting plans for a high-speed rail line through Lichfield has launched a new website.
The Lichfield Action Group, who have organised a public meeting at Boley Park Community Hall on October 1 at 8pm, set up www.lichfieldagainsthighspeedtrains.org.uk because they believe many residents are still in the dark about the effect the route, known as HS2, would have on the city.
The group’s chairman, Iain Sands, said:
“The website is still a work in progress. We are not professional agitators, we are just a group of ordinary people concerned about the disastrous effect HS2 will have on the city and surrounding villages.
“We are not against high-speed trains per se. Indeed, we believe there are alternative proposals for high-speed rail which make sense. But we don’t believe HS2 is the answer.
“It will devastate the countryside and blight hundreds of homes. Even those houses not directly adjacent to the line will be affected. For example, noise levels have not been studied properly but it will be like a jumbo jet taking off every four minutes. It is planned that 14 trains an hour will run on this line with 18 an hour when the northern extension is built. These trains will be 400 metres long and will travel at speeds up to 250 mph.
“The visual impact will be enormous, especially from the 685-metre concrete viaduct that will run over the A38 to Streethay up to 14 metres in the air.”
Mr Sands continued:
“The trains won’t even stop in Lichfield, so any so-called benefits will bypass the city. Indeed, it is likely to lead to a loss of jobs and amenities in Lichfield as businesses move closer to the stations.
“And of course the recent Potters Bar inquiry reminded us that accidents happen. If a train of this size travelling at these speeds came off the viaduct it would take out half of Lichfield.
“We believe the business case for HS2 is fatally flawed with several myths about passenger numbers, the value of time saved, the cost and the damage to the environment in terms of carbon emissions and energy use.
“Estimated costs vary from £20billion to £60billion and we know which is more likely. At a time when everyone is expected to share the cost of reducing the national debt it seems absurd to spend £60billion on a white elephant. We’d rather see it spent on repairing schools, providing cancer drugs on the NHS, putting bobbies on the beat. It should be used to improve the existing infrastructure. High-speed trains could be run on updated and improved existing lines.”
Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant, who has called for the proposals to be scrapped, and his Tamworth colleague Christopher Pincher, have both agreed to attend the October 1 meeting.
Mr Sands added:
“To get an idea of possible numbers at our public meeting in October we’d like people to contact us through our email address email@example.com to offer their support and let us know it they are likely to attend.”