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County councillor insists HS2 will cause “unacceptable” damage

A county councillor has claimed HS2 will cause “unacceptable” damage to Staffordshire.

The controversial high speed rail line is set to cut through parts of Lichfield and the surrounding villages.

A Hybrid Bill is expected to be presented to Parliament before the end of the year.

But a report to Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet says the fight against the line must continue.

Cllr Mark Winnington

Cllr Mark Winnington

“If left unchallenged the proposed route for HS2 will cause unacceptable damage to our countryside and communities in Staffordshire,” said Cllr Mark Winnington, cabinet member for economy and infrastructure.

“We are opposed to the scheme and are determined to continue to champion the Staffordshire voice and if necessary petitioning against the Hybrid Bill presents an opportunity to work with county partners to influence the current design and route.

“Although the Bill is on Phase One there will be undoubtedly lessons we can take forward to lessen the impact of the second phase should it go ahead.”

The report on progress of the introduction of the Hybrid Bill will be discussed by Cabinet tomorrow (November 20).

Once the Bill is introduced to Parliament individuals, groups and organisations ‘directly and specially affected’ by the provisions of the bill may petition against it.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.


  1. cheshwrg

    19th November, 2013 at 9:48 am

    HS2 is based on 50 year old Japanese designs. Instead we should be thinking 21st century to solve our network capacity problems.
    If train braking systems are updated using Magtrac braking then far more trains could travel safely on our existing lines. This relatively cheap and potentially world beating solution was invented here in the UK. For details visit

  2. Padav

    19th November, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    What is deemed “unacceptable” in this context?

    One house being demolished?
    One tree requiring removal?
    Someone’s (current) view being interrupted?

    Fact is, new infrastructure will always impact someone, somewhere

    To introduce significant NEW capacity into the rail network requires the construction of NEW track – there is no credible way round that conundrum. So the challenge remains – where do you put that NEW track?

    Cllr Winnington is being disingenuous because when he talks about “work[ing] with county partners to influence the current design and route”, what he means is attempts to move the route from his (constituency/ward) backyard, into someone else’s – plain and simple!

  3. kingsnewclothes

    19th November, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    We can all ignore Padav. By his own admission he is a “Professional Facilitator” and its no surprise he seeks to dismiss the environmental and financial damage that HS2 will create.

    Massive environmental damage fully in keeping with the track record that this government has had on environmental issues as highlighted today.

    Significant financial loss to tens of thousands of people along the route. They will not be properly compensated by Higgins & Co because the government simply can’t afford it. If we can’t afford compensation then we can’t afford to build HS2.

    A disaster for the taxpayer since the official figures show only a 22p in the £ cash return on this £ 50 billion project — and over 90 % of that comes from savings due to cut backs on the existing network !

    As for capacity, I remind you that peak time on the WCML has just a 52 % fill factor much lower than most other services into London. We don’t need to treble capacity on the WCML. Significant capacity can be added in other ways. That has been admitted – but it won’t reduce the journey times by as much.

    To say capacity constraints mean we must have HS2 as laid down is a bit like saying the crisis in power generation means we’ve got to put a nuclear power station in the middle of Manchester.

  4. John Webber

    19th November, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Once again there is confusion about the nature of ‘congestion’.
    In the U.K. we value regular trains- and on long distance West Coast services, Virgin has obtained government approval to increase services from two trains an hour to three- and this alone has put pressure on the provision of stopping trains and commuter services which share the routes and tracks.That’s before we consider increasing container and other freight.
    It’s train paths that is the issue.It’s trains on tracks, not bums on seats -or standing up at peak times – that requires an answer.Fast and slow, non stop and local commuter trains sharing the same metals does not make the best use of theoretical maximum capacity of the route- especially where there is only a single pair of tracks- as between Rugby,Coventry(where other West Midlands Cross Country services join the route) and Birmingham.
    New,additional- and segregated- tracks are required for fast trains that can bypass the pinch points.

  5. Padav

    19th November, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    I think we can all ignore @kingsnewclothes because by his own admission he is a self-interest driven naysayer (the new line goes near him?)

    Where do you get this stuff from? Do you go around researching individuals who have the temerity to point out pertinent (and inconvenient) facts – it says something when you are reduced to trying to discredit the messenger instead of focusing on the arguments involved?

    By way of example – I’ll take your own particular factoid “As for capacity, I remind you that peak time on the WCML has just a 52 % fill factor much lower than most other services into London.”

    What you conveniently forgot to mention was that this figure was recorded
    a) Just for Virgin Pendolino services in the peak period
    b) Virgin services either side of this peak recorded 80%= loading figures
    c) Virgin had put on an extra service per hour within recent times (as a short to medium term measure to improve capacity, rapidly filling up anyway)
    d) London Midland services record loadings well in excess of 150%

    You see it helps if you tell ALL of the story, rather than just select the bit you want others to hear becuase it appears to support your argument?

  6. kingsnewclothes

    19th November, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    No, it doesn’t go near me( is that the only argument you have – opponents must be NIMBYS ? ) but it has blighted the lives of several friends of mine for the last 3 years.

    I just like to get into the numbers and that is what gave me the impetus to dig. Once I started digging it became clear that the economic case did not add up but there had been an awful lot of effort put in to make it look like it did. That dishonesty is what I hate the most, but maybe that is just politics.

    Let’s stick a big premium on the value of “time saved” and then guess what …. the expensive scheme with the quickest journey times gives the best return !! And the most damaging route which is the straightest gives the best return of all !! Then we can increase it again by only having a few stops !! Then we can pay for some of it by cutting out various fast direct services from the conventional network and herding people onto a hub and spoke system !!

    In fact it gives a lousy cash return , as I said 22 p in the £ , which represents very bad value on a £ 50 bn scheme … and that assumes something like a third of the passengers on HS2 are making new journeys ( not switching mode )- all those new travellers seduced by the 30 – 60 minute saving ?

    Maybe a 22 p in the £ cash return would not matter if we did not live in times of austerity. But we do … with all the implications for social care , A&E , mental health services , child protection etc etc etc. And you know what the man said “austerity is here to stay”. The IFS at least agree with him on that.

    There are alternatives that add significant capacity ( maybe not as much as HS2 – although even that seemed to be called into question by the DoT the other week )that are much cheaper, more incremental and less environmentally damaging. They are just not as exciting for the council leaders in Birmingham and Manchester who hope to divert inward investment their way from other towns and cities and they aren’t as exciting for the rail and construction industry companies who hope to live off the taxpayer for the next 20 years.

  7. Padav

    19th November, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Yes, a massive percentage of the vocal opponents also just happen to live in close proximity to the line (now there’s a coincidence)

    I’m not really interested in the BCR numbers game because that’s all it is – a guessing game (on both sides of the argument) – in fact I’m not really that interested in the BCR per se because it’s a blind alley – one that provides the self interested naysayers with lots of ammunition because of course, constructing a new rail line (the first North of London in more than 100 years) was always going to cost a shed load!

    So your 22p in the £ figure is just something you can make up – a guestimate with no real foundation in reality – I happen to think HS2 is going to pay back (over the 150 years minumum lifespan it will enjoy) more than 10 times whatever it costs – you see I’ve just made that figure up but it’s probably equally as as valid as your 22p in the £ claim?

    I prefere to deal in unavoidable facts, such as;
    1. Rail passenger journeys doubled in the last 10 years (and they’re still rising inexorably year on year)
    2. Demand for private car and air transport over a similar period either flatlined or declined significantly
    3. Rail currently only accounts for relatively small % of overall travel demand but its share is rapidly increasing
    4. The whole rail network is carrying record numbers, equivalent to levels last seen in pre-Beeching era times, on a network half the size (measure in km of track)
    5. Once you reach the physical limit threshold of free train paths, no amount of upgrades is going to deliver you significant extra capacity (put simply you can’t squeeze more trains on to the same line) – this unavoidable obstacle is already impacting on key pinch points in the existing network, the very same pinch points HS2 is designed to relieve in the longer term

    Put all of those facts into the mixer and you come very rapidly to a blindingly obvious conclusion. The only credible way to provide a future proof network capable of hosting the much larger forecast (perhaps two or three times the current record levels) passenger numbers, 20, 30, 40 years or more down the line, is to build NEW track

    So where do you put that NEW track?

    HS2 is just some of that NEW track to provide a HIGH capacity, HIGH reliability, HIGH quality North-South spine

    Your alternatives just duck the issue (for a few more years) and the problem comes back again – see this article, which explains it a lot better than I can

  8. Jozef Nakielski

    19th November, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    It will cut off Lichfield on two sides. HS2 is not like a conventional railway, it has high embankments, high fly overs, deep cuttings. Huge concrete parapets, square white concrete bridges and tunnel mouths, no architecture, no hedges, just steel fence. It’s big and ugly and incredibly noisy. Visit HS1 if you require proof. We;d be far better off solving those pinch points by putting extra track between Rugby and Roade Junction. Sorting out the up down up down spaghetti once and for all so that the existing network can carry both high speed trains and local trains/freight separately.

  9. Jozef Nakielski

    19th November, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    The fact is that this will lead to less trains for the majority. Virgin WILL lose paths, Virgin will therefore lose revenue, less revenue means higher prices. HS2 requires Lichfield folk to travel into birmingham, which means travelling and paying for parking, a taxi or a separate train. HS2 prices will be higher than other prices. It is therefore ludicrous to expect anyone other than people living in the cities or very close by to use it. Why for example would someone from Liverpool travel all the way in to Manchester to get a train that will be ten minutes quicker than the Liverpool train. It’s extra cost, it’s extra time, it’s extra changes, it’s extra hassle and worry and time to book, to arrange. During this time no work can be done.
    Road transport has flat lined whilst rail transport has risen because the roads are so bad and it’s so expensive. You also can not work whilst driving 70mph.
    It’s a good job the railways were privatised. Think how much more traffic would be on them if they hadn’t been privatised and we had sensible rail prices.

  10. Padav

    19th November, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    @Jozef Nakielski: “We;d be far better off solving those pinch points by putting extra track between Rugby and Roade Junction. Sorting out the up down up down spaghetti once and for all so that the existing network can carry both high speed trains and local trains/freight separately.”

    So you admit that new capacity is needed – you just don’t want any construction aimed at providing that solution in your locality?

    The alternatives you advocate are only short term (5 – 10 years) stop gap measures – they don’t provide an effective long term (25 years plus) solution – only a new line does that and that’s why HS2 or something very much like it is needed.

    Lot’s of different routes were looked at – please don’t try to imply that the current HS2 route was arrived at via the back of a cigarette packet because a painstaking process has been undergone with dozens of different options considered.

    Please stop being deliberately selective in your narrative (tell the whole story) – yes, of course Virgin will lose some paths on a revamped post HS2 WCML – that outcome is entirely logical because Virgin currently operates the “fast” inter-city service and much of that traffic will naturally migrate to HS2, freeing up pathways on the WCML for slower moving commuter and freight services – the overall result post HS2 is a better, more comprehensive service – your divide a rule tactic is obvious – just because a transport strategy doesn’t benefit everyone is no reason not to proceed – does CrossRail benefit me (in NW.England) or Lichfield residents – no it doesn’t but it’s still going ahead!

    You inadvertently reveal one of the reasons why we need HS2 – “Road transport has flat lined whilst rail transport has risen…………………..and it’s so expensive.” Yes and do you really think those costs are going down any day now – it’s a fact that ever increasing numbers of young people aren’t even bothering to learn to drive, let alone buy a car – so how do you think the next generation of inter city travellers is going to get from A to B – looks like it will be by rail for ever larger numbers? See this article –

    An overwhelming body of evidence points irrevocably towards a strategy in which Rail will play a much bigger role in the long distance travel habits of UK plc – in that respect HS2 makes eminent good sense – the UK must ignore the siren voices urging abandonment of HS2 (to serve their narrow self interest agenda) and press forward towards a rail network in which new build is integral.

  11. Jozef Nakielski

    19th November, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    someone with the IQ of a gold fish could have drawn up a better plan on a cigarette packet rather than this useless trophy solution.

    HS2 is not the solution, it goes from nowhere to nowhere.
    Therefore very little traffic will migrate to HS2. I’ve already gave an example as to why traffic from Lichfield or liverpool, both served by the west coast main line would not use HS2 yet will suffer from reduced service from Virgin. The released paths will be used for freight, not local trains. People keep banging on about how we need extra capacity for freight yet when challenged about the loss of virgin services, they claim that local trains will replace the virgin paths. They never explain whwere the freight will go.
    In fact there’s absolutely no reason for freight to be on the west coast main line. most could be pathed up re opened lines on East Anglia, over to leeds and up the under used settle carlisle line. Freight isn’t fussy about 12 minutes.
    NON of the arguments for HS2 stand up, they can be dismissed either by fact or by probability. If and when we need a new line it would be far better if it where a traditional main line that served communities rather than a by pass to cities. Britain isn’t big enough to warrant it. Even in America CA they have the same issues. from nowhere to nowhere, over projected passenger numbers, under projected costs…
    vanity projects that do very little for their money.
    I’m actually in Atherstone, north Warwickshire, a considerable distance from Lichfield. I don’t want to see lichfield walled in though. It will ruin the town, deprive it of a decent rail service and prevent growth.

  12. Jozef Nakielski

    19th November, 2013 at 11:16 pm


    Makes a change from the usual tory tosh that rail traffic has risen because privatisation has made it more appealing, cheaper, more comfortable and efficient.

    Car transport costs won’t go down, again thanks to the government and its fuel taxes and the lack of control of insurance costs. successive governments encouraged a claim culture.
    Rail costs will rise drastically though and may make road transport look cheap again.

  13. kingsnewclothes

    20th November, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    But I didn’t make up the 22 p in the £ cash return Padav. It is there in black and white but buried away in the latest so called Economic Case produced by the Government ( aka Jackanory 5 ). Check it out. Take the “Revenue” deduct the “Operating Costs” and then divide the net by the “Capital Costs”. That is the paltry cash return on this project . And that assumes a very large number of new journeys simply because the journey time has come down.

    Then just for fun compare the so called “Operating Profit” with the Savings from cuts to the existing services. The 2 figures are almost the same.

    I know you don’t like to look at such things because they are inconvenient for your argument. You prefer to subscribe to the “leap of faith” school of economics.

    But that wouldn’t matter so much if public spending in every other wasn’t being slashed on what is starting to look like a permanent basis. On any particular day that I write a blog like this I have different examples of the real damage being created by the cuts — which aren’t even bringing down our National Debt !

    So today we just look at 2 :

    1 ) Cuts to armed forces by 20,000 before they have even got the reservists in place who are supposed to provide the cover. What a bunch of muppets. Oh yes, Phillip Hammond in charge of the defence brief. There is every chance that they won’t be able to recruit anything like enough reservists anyway but in any case I’m not sure I want reservists defending our realm.

    2 ) Child protection services. Survey today reveals what we already knew, the profession is in crisis and children are being put in danger on a regular basis. It isn’t all down to budget cuts but that plays a big part.

    Just 2 very current examples of the “hard choices” being made but somehow Cameron thinks a 22 p in £ cash return, a contrived KPMG report and the hope of a few votes in the north (which won’t happen) mean it’s a different set of rules for HS2.

    You know full well that there are alternative ways to increase both seat and line capacity. I give you just one , extend Thameslink to MK and Northampton. I bet it could be done fairly quickly as well. But not eye catching enough for you. And it doesn’t get you to London quick enough either does it.

    By the way what is a “professional facilitator” ?

  14. Michael

    20th November, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    I would say to Padav:
    1. No one knows ‘all the story’ – just try getting through any of the HS2 docs.
    2. HS2 might only knock down one tree, one house or ruin one view at ‘one property’ but there are hundreds of ‘one properties’ along its route if you look closely – and a spoiled view is not just a spoiled view in the case of HS2.
    3. Current loadings.
    a) Virgin on WCML Euston to Macclesfield today at 18.20 price £151, or at 19.00 price £74.20. That’s why loading goes from 52% to 80% “either side of this peak” – it’s cost and not time that counts (it could be noted that the later half-price train arrives only 30 min behind). HS2 will operate on the same principle.
    b) “London Midland services record loadings well in excess of 150%” – that’s because they serve London’s commuter belt. Maybe they deserve a seat for the half hour or so journey but so do all the others on routes into London – you do not need the massive HS2 spend to relieve this demand.
    4. Routes. Yes there were many routes ‘considered’ but anyone could come up with the approximate ‘preferred’ route based on the fundamentals of: go in straight lines avoiding towns and big hills because towns cost too much to knock down and hills require tunnels which are too expensive to dig – unless needed to buy off Manchester.
    5. Environment. For much of its length, HS2 is just a steel cage, needing to keep everything out including wildlife and trees (leaves). There is some tunnelling, ‘green’ and standard, but the only other crossing places are where viaducts cross flood plains. Just because we built a motorway network, which we all now depend on in some way, with little concern for its impact on the environment, does not mean that everything is now ok and we should continue the trend.
    6. The cost. So now both Padav and Lord Heseltine agree that the costings and other measures are humbug. That has to be progress. How about “Rail passenger journeys doubled in the last 10 years (and they’re still rising inexorably year on year)”? I think there is some unwarranted extrapolation into the future and misuse of numbers here when much of the increase is in local/commuter traffic.
    Because of the investment, HS2 ‘has to’ and will be made to succeed. From Phase 1, it immediately absorbs much of the existing intercity travel demand. This does not simply ‘release capacity’ but there is no denying detracts from many existing services which cannot be quantified.
    7. NIMBYs. As knc, you don’t need to be directly affected (as everybody pays, we are all affected), to realise how wasteful and unnecessary HS2 is but, if you are, you have every right to speak up and be listened to and not simply rubbished. No apology for knc? Padav does not mind that he will not benefit from Crossrail, ignoring the fact that Crossrail is funded locally, so he doesn’t pay towards it either. I think you would find that a lot of people would say about HS2: “I don’t care because I’m not affected”. What does that say of them?
    8. Found any disingenuous claims or statements? Look no further than just about any article by an HS2 promoter.

  15. Darryl

    20th November, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    I know I shouldn’t say this, but Padav argues like a spoilt child.