Plans for a high-speed rail route through Lichfield have been scrapped.
Philip Hammond, the Secretary of State for Transport, confirmed the revised HS2 line would avoid the city and the nearby village of Whittington.
Speaking in the House of Commons today (December 20) Mr Hammond said:
“An improved alignment has been identified which would move the line further away from Lichfield.”
The city’s MP Michael Fabricant believes the new route will be seen as a victory by many local residents.
“They have abandoned the railway viaduct which would have flown over Britannia Park in Lichfield and blighted the lives of people living in hundreds of homes as well as being an eyesore across most of Lichfield.
“The train will be forced to slow down as it approaches Lichfield district from the south as the track takes an inverted ‘S’ bend passing roughly midway between Lichfield and Whittington then swinging to the left to pass east of Streethay and heading out to the north west.
“Many in Lichfield and Whittington will regard it as a major victory. I am aware that this new route will still cause huge difficulties for those in its path, but it greatly minimises the effect on residents of Lichfield district. Far fewer people will now be affected.
“It is the culmination of countless meetings I have had with the Secretary of State for Transport and his engineers and with the Prime Minister. If the line is eventually constructed, it is the route which will cause the least damage.”
Despite the decision lifting a cloud that has been hanging over many local residents, Mr Fabricant admits it may not be the end of the argument about HS2.
The Conservative MP explained:
“The question still arises as to whether HS2 is the best way to link the north and south of the UK and I know that the Lichfield Action Group will argue that HS2 is not the way to achieve this and that it should not be built.
“I have an open mind on the matter. The existing north-south rail links are reaching full capacity and some solution does now need to be found before our rail service clogs up altogether.
“If there is an alternative which will deliver the same benefits than constructing a new line, I would welcome it. But the Department of Transport assert that longer trains and increased signalling on existing track to increase the number of trains are only a short term fix.
“The HS2 is not about shaving off a few minutes between Birmingham and London. It is all about connecting the north and Scotland with the south east for the next generation.”
A five-month public consultation into the revised route will start in February.