Lichfield’s MP is backing proposals for an alternative route for HS2 into Birmingham.
A new plan is aiming to utilise a more environmentally-friendly pathway for the controversial high speed rail route.
Michael Fabricant has already called for a tunnel to be constructed where the line passes the A38, but he has now backed proposals to change the route as it enters and leaves Birmingham.
Three revised routes have been suggested by the MP’s HS2 Phase 2 Working Group.
“This proposal makes major changes to the route both south and north of Birmingham utilising existing transport corridors and brownfield sites where possible and so is much less environmentally damaging,” Mr Fabricant said.
“Phase 2 has already attempted to do just this where possible, but the original route for Phase 1 does not. If the Phase 1 route goes ahead as planned, there will be inevitable environmental damage in areas impacted by the Phase 2 alignment, particularly north of Lichfield in what the Environmental Statement itself acknowledges to be an ‘historic 18th Century agrarian landscape’.
The three proposals being suggested are:
Into Curzon St along the line of the existing Coventry/Birmingham rail route, joining it at Reeves Green. A route north eastwards towards Curzon Street would follow industrial, non-residential land between Marston Green and the Birmingham Airport curtilage, rejoining the ‘preferred’ route south of the M6/M42 intersection and trending north westwards along the A5/M6Toll alignment and then northwards to Crewe and Manchester.
Into Curzon St along the line of the A45: from Hampton in Arden, across the M42 and onto the A45 alignment south of Birmingham Airport to connect with Birmingham International railway station. It would leave the A45 alignment at Small Heath to track north westwards into Curzon St, and out along the route described above.
Into Curzon Street along either of the alternatives above, and out along the alignment of the A38 to the M6, then along the M6 alignment to Junction 7, skirting to the east of Walsall and thence over brownfield and mined-over land to cross the A5/M6Toll at Churchbridge.
“My own personal preference is for a combination of Routes B and C which would avoid Lichfield and Burntwood,” Mr Fabricant added.
“In any of these alternative routes, the end of Phase 1 would move northwards towards Stafford, obviating a perceived need for a spur at Hanch to link with the West Coast Main Line
“The route in the inner Birmingham conurbation would be through tunnels as is the case on the approach to Manchester city centre.”
Despite his preference for an alternative route, the Lichfield MP admits that HS2 Ltd would be “less likely to adopt it”.
He added: “However, this would form part of the Petition to Parliament if the HS2 Bill is not defeated in Parliament in April.
“The Parliamentary Committee may be more open to major changes of this kind.”
Critics have accused opponents of HS2 – which would cut through parts of Lichfield and the surrounding villages – of merely trying to move the problem on to other areas.
But Mr Fabricant insists a revised route would have wide-reaching benefits.
““This is not nimby-ism,” he said.
“It is important to note that when considered overall in the context of Phase 2 as well as Phase 1, these routes are straighter than HS2’s preferred route which shows a marked north easterly bulge around Lichfield.
“Given the likely need for elevated sections through urban, suburban and industrial areas and the fact that high speeds would not be possible here in parts anyway, the time and cost savings for a shorter line and the opportunities for redevelopment of brownfield sites would be significant.”