Posted 29th November 2010 | 18 Comments

Transport secretary unveils HS2 compensation plan

Old Oak Common near Paddington: named as future site of HS2 tunnel portal

Old Oak Common near Paddington: named as future site of HS2 tunnel portal

PROPERTY owners affected by High Speed 2 are set to get enhanced compensation, and a tunnel between Old Oak Common and HS1 at St Pancras has been included in the plans for Britain's first domestic High Speed line.

These were among the key points revealed by the transport secretary when he addressed a meeting of business leaders in the West Midlands.

Phbilip Hammond said full details of the preferred route for High Speed 2 – the 400km/h new line between London, the Midlands and the North – will be published within the next month, including the plans for a tunnel from Old Oak Common, as well as proposals for a future line into Heathrow airport.

He was speaking at High Speed Rail ‘Business Debate’ at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, when he  promised that for properties along the route of HS2 there would be a compensation scheme ‘going significantly beyond the statutory requirements’. It would extend beyond properties and land directly required for the railway to include nearby properties that have their values ‘significantly diminished,’ he said.

He added that the Department for Transport had already purchased ‘about 40’ properties under the existing hardship scheme and was looking at 60 more.

The Transport Secretary vigorously dismissed objections to the HS2 plan, including claims that it would never make a profit.

“If we used financial accounting we would never have any public spending, we would build nothing and we would have no public services,” he told opponents, mainly from Coventry and Warwickshire, who heckled him.

“We have to judge investing in projects like HS2, or schools and the health service, by the benefits they bring to society as a whole. Financial accounting would strike a dagger through the whole case for public sector investment.”

But Mr Hammond warned business leaders attending the debate, organised by the West Midlands Chambers of Commerce and Industry, that HS2 opponents “are very determined, organised as well financed”.

And he told his audience: “Those who support High Speed Rail must speak up and speak out loudly and clearly – or the argument may be lost by default.”

Mr Hammond’s comments came just five days after Prime Minister David Cameron gave unequivocal backing to HS2 in The Daily Telegraph, the daily bible of the Conservative Party.  Mr Cameron said High Speed Rail would have a ‘transformative’ effect and address the north-south divide. “With High-Speed Rail we have a real chance of cracking it,” the Prime Minister said, adding: “The most powerful regional policy is transport and the most powerful form of transport is High Speed Rail.”

Reader Comments:

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  • janet gustafsson, Amersham, uk

    Fantastic idea!! Uk moves in to the 20th century (only 100 years behind the rest of the developed world). Sooner we start the cheaper it will be. What is everyone worried about - we have six lane motorways all over the country! let's hope it starts soon
    P.S. I live in Amersham!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lisa Blomfield, Kenilworth

    I am in favour of high speed rail for all not one very expensive line to serve London. This money could be much better spent in improving the whole railway network giving everyone faster connections. Far from being environmentally friendly at 250mph HS2 is carbon neutral at best (this is the governments assessment not mine). There is no intention of HS2 cutting air traffic either as the Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport states "HS2 is a key element in increasing the number of flights using the airport". HS2 is the governments way of connecting Heathrow with Birmingham and turning Birmingham Airport into Heathrows third runway. They know they have to increase air traffic and it is good to disguise this huge expense as a railway that sounds like a green travel option. It is not a coincidence that the track will be built at the same time as the extension to Birmingham Airports runway. There are far better ways to serve “the national interest” than one rail link designed to turn Birmingham into an additional ‘London’ airport.

  • Cork, Lichfield, UK

    The new prefered route to the north of Lichfield does not make economic sense.It has increased the length of the line at a massive cost increase and has put an S bend in the track.The trains will have to considerably slow down to travel around this bend which makes no sense.I understood the train was designed to travel at 250mph and the track needed to be almost straight to allow this.Our MP has done this so as not to upset his voters.He has not taken into account the other peoples lives the new longer and more expensive
    route will destroy. Roy. Lichfield.

  • Sandy, Castle Douglas, Scotland

    As usual Scotland is completely ignored by an English elected Tory government . The business case for HS2 is flawed because the line isnt going to Scotland. This isnt my theory ,its the rail industry's theory,i.e. the people who KNOW about railways. Network Rail proposed a line roughly following the West Coast to Glasgow,with a branch to Edinburgh,but as usual the Tories and civil servants at the DfT know better!! The amount of internal flights between Edinburgh/Glasgow and London proves the potential market for HS2 in Scotland. Virtually no-one flies between London and Birmingham,and Virgin have already cornered the Manchester-London market.But hay we'll just keep sending our income tax money,40% of our electricity,100% of our oil and gas revenues,wind power,wave power,etc etc to London while the BBc and others pervade the myth to the English that we're SUBSIDISED. Ps in Scotland over 70% of people voted against the Con /Dems,nice to get a government that represents us.

  • Steve, East Midlands, UK

    "Over 40 years of medical science proves the link between childhood cancers and the proximity to power lines"

    Really? (For those in doubt, see what Cancer Research has to say on the matter)

    If this is the level to which the NIMBY snobs have stooped, it is they who have already lost the argument.

  • Scary Biscuits, Windsor, UK

    I agree, the business case for HS2 looks a bit dubious at best. This is what is making the environmental and NIMBY objectors more motivated.

    The government doesn't help itself by jumping to conclusions. The projected passenger numbers for HS2 are astronomic, making it a very high risk way of spending public money. Whereas, lower risk options such as upgrading existing lines and rolling stock (e.g. Sheffield could be helped by electrifying the midland mainline and then be almost as quick to London) or re-opening the old Great Central Railway which was built to a very high spec and has the advantage of going through city centres but also having more flexibility over where it stops, benefiting more people. There has been no comparitive analysis of these options and the Government is now stuck with a difficult argument.

  • Ian, Chesham, UK

    'Over 40 years of medical science proves the link between childhood cancers and the proximity to power lines is High Speed rail safe for our children born and unborn?'

    It's this kind of emotional rubbish that makes me lose patience with the anti-HS2 lobby. This statement has no credibility whatsoever - please show me where there are instances of power lines over railways that are unsafe - and serves to completely undermine these short-sighted NIMBY's. Time to stop wasting time listening to them and get on with construction

  • Matt, Hannover, Germany

    It seems that 17 billion pounds (one esitimate for the phase of HS2) would buy an awful lot of "rail reopenings". 85 if you take an average of 200 million pounds for each one. Our classic rail network could blossom into something really great, that surely would bring fantastic economic benefits across the whole country.

  • Andy, Bristol, UK

    I have some sympathy with the people who's villages and homes HS2 will pass through, but think that they should tone down the vitriol, and instead concentrate their efforts on mitigating the effects the line might have on their local environment (more tunnels, cuttings etc). Sadly, most of the anti-HS2 lobby are ignoring that they will benefit from this project (including job creation and reduced air pollution).

    I agree that an off-route station in the Chilterns should be built, in order that the region sees more benefits from the line (near the proposed East West railway would be a sensible location).

    As for the financial case, think this one is pretty sound, given the total benefits to the nation as a whole.

  • Adam, Birmingham

    I see the same emotive and vastly inaccurate information with no obvious sources is being supplied by people against HS2 on this Have Your Say. Just shows them up really... As someone whose family home was at the back of the busy West Coast Mainline for over 20 years (which has Overhead Power Lines as well as Diesel trains), I can say that there is no Health and Wellbeing risk and this is just another inaccurate tool used to frighten people

  • Peter Davidson, Alderley Edge, NW.England

    Very happy to see this blindingly obvious adjunct to the current HS2 plan, announced.

    HS2's environmental case is almost exclusively predicated on its ability to drive modal transport shift (from short haul intra-European air travel to a railborne alternative).

    That modal shift will only happen if the high speed rail network is integrated into existing air transport networks which means linking the line a) into Heathrow in some fashion (as well as other UK regional airports; Birmingham to start with but later on Manchester, East Midlands and Leeds/Bradford) and b) HS2 is linked directly to HS1 to facilitate direct provincial services to Paris/Bruxsel (and other destinations in due course)

    What surprises me is that it's taken this long for this very obvious penny to drop?

  • Richard S, Coventry, UK

    This is a scheme which is needed desperately, having being rounded up and herded into a train only then to have to stand, I can 100% say we need HS2.

    Its the responsibility of government to make strategic decisions which are best for the country. High speed trains are not as environmentally friendly as conventional trains but it is a better alternative than flying, mainly because planes dump there emission's right in the upper atmosphere making it far worse.

    The fact is this country needs better transport infrastructure and I would rather have a railway line than another airport (with planes flying over my house) or another motorway which roars through the countryside and eaves you with poor air quality and constant grumble.

  • MHAG, N Warwickshire, UK

    Over 40 years of medical science proves the link between childhood cancers and the proximity to power lines is High Speed rail safe for our children born and unborn?
    Shame on this Coalition Government for blindly accepting a rail plan from their predecessors. We all know the mess Labour made of our economy and now the coalition is following suit! I wonder where the £34bn is coming from to build this white elephant of a trophy project? Oh, from BSFI, Child Benefit, Tuition Fees, housing benefits, Troops helicopters/equipment, road safety grants, community projects, frontline nurses/police and firemen....I could go on. We all know that when money is the right thing to do is make do and mend what you already have - so invest a quarter of this £34bn into the existing lines, track, signals, rolling stock and speed them up a tad if speed is such a magnet although frankly I think 160mph is quite fast enough on a mode of transport without seatbelts, no manifest and no escape when you de rail in a tunnel, over a viaduct, or out in the countryside where the emergency services will struggle to get to you in your 'golden hour of need'....lengthen station platforms. increase the number of coaches at peak times of day, improve parking and cycling stands at local stations, make stations safe (pickpockets operate up and down the lines according to the posters I read!) And whilst you are at it provide us with humane sanitation at stations - have you seen the disgraceful excuses for a toilets that you get in some areas? No wonder some commuters prefer to use the subways and underpasses.....The country would back inward investment into existing rail lines Hammond make do and mend. It's what we must all do when “there is no money!”...

  • Martin Haynes, Chesterfield

    Firstly the trains which will be running on this HS2 will be electric, and so do not emit any emissions themselves.

    I live in Chesterfield, a town just south of Sheffield, and I know that HS2 will greatly benefit the cities of Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby which are all proposed to have a station on HS2 (a single station for Nottingham and Derby). HS2 will halve the journey time (from the proposed journey time lengths) form these cities to London, and will help to bring large amounts of investment in these areas, because of these connections to HS2.

    HS2 will also create lots of jobs, not just in the construction of the line but also from the train services which will operate on it and at the station's and other infrastructure which will be built along the line.

    So both of these combined will create economic growth which will pay back for the cost.

    I understand that people's property close to the proposed line will loose and have lost there value, but that is what this compensation scheme is there for.

    If we don't invest in our railways we will end up with a rail network which is overcapacity where everyone has to stand to get anywhere, even on long journeys, and then people will go back to there cars and all the roads will end up congested as well.

    So what would people rather have having to stand on trains or wait for ages in traffic jams, or have high speed rail and get to destination faster. I know which I would choose!

  • Roy, Kent, UK

    "Increased emissions will blight their health" - only if the school is next to a power station too.

  • nick, welwyn garden city

    there are many places where schools are near railways and roads. also there aren't any local emissions from electric trains and overall emissions are certainly lower then in competing transport modes ie road and air.

    I am also not sure how aylesbury nick concludes that the economic and environmental arguments for hs2 have been lost I would conclude the opposite. It is a very good investment and also the govt must think of the economics of the whole country so priorities are not necessarily the same as in a private business.
    Apart from a few areas it is the private business that is calling for the high speed line !!!

    I do believe however that there should be a local station serving the Chilterns and that the line should be in tunnel as much as is practical and otherwise as inobtrusive as possible. I live very near the main line in Welwyn and I cant say it is very noticeable. no doubt locals were outraged here when they built our viaduct !

  • Felicitas Freeman, Water Orton, UK

    Can we have some more info on the proposed significantly enhanced compensation scheme please. From where I am standing in Water Orton I have two neighbours to the left who have tried in vain selling their properties. We have been told our house halved in value. My neighbour to the right who is an 83 year old widower who lost his wife not so long ago. He would dearly love to move to Kent to be by his children, but he can't move because he can't sell his house although it is on the market for a song. I fear for the health and wellbeing of future schoolchidren in our village - the track runs 300 m behind the school. Trains every 5 minutes and increased emissions will blight their health. I hope the economic gain is great enough to cover the medical expenses of our blighted kids whose downfall is that their school, their village, their health is regarded a worthwhile sacrifice for the greater good

  • Nick, Aylesbury, UK

    Mr Hammond continues to promote the strategic benefit argument, because he has lost the economic and environmental arguments for HS2. If the directors of any public or private organisation said that -we must ignore the financial arguments and still go ahead with a poor investment - then shareholders would be asking them to resign...

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