Dear Editor, £11billion Rail Link could go Under New Street, said the report by Paul Dale.
Reading this article leaves any thinking person to wonder just who’s fighting for the region’s transport future and who is just for the developer’s profits. It’s a point strengthened by R Worrall’s letter of 12 August and there are few who can speak with better knowledge or reputation than he. He is probably the best spokesman the region has ever had on transport issues and should be listened to more so than the petty minded demagogues who will promote Gateway no matter what cost to the real future transport needs in the West Midlands.
We read in Paul Dale’s very good article council transport experts are working with consultants appointed to examine the benefits of a high-speed line coming to Birmingham
Marvellous so far but then enter the dead hand of the Myopic Four (I leave readers to guess who they are) making their presence felt. I refer to the study terms of reference which limit the options for a terminal of the High Speed line to Birmingham International, Moor St, and a subterranean station under New Street. Any of these options will fail to meet the short, medium and long term needs of the city/region all to protect the ‘retail lounge’ that is Gateway.
The limited terms of reference will result in three constrained and separate city centre stations with limited scope for expansion. The Gateway myopia will exclude the best option i.e. Grand Central. Grand Central has potential for full modal interchange, at less cost, with less disruption to rail travellers. Grand Central would provide interchange between high-speed rail intercity rail and suburban rail services, within one site ideal for industry, commerce people and railways and transport in general. The Grand Central concept could include bus/coach/tram etc on one site.
Grand Central would, in fact, facilitate rail access to Birmingham International and the airport especially if the HS rail line was routed that way. Birmingham would have the advantage over other regional airports enabling the airport to serve a far wider customer base for longer distance flights far more suited to air travel.
Jerry Blackett shows his myopia (and prejudice) by insisting on rigorous study of the High Speed Link because of the threat it poses to Birmingham International. Clearly he fears competition but his myopia prevents him from realising the airport could be the overflow for London Airports and could also extract traffic from Heathrow. At least this shows he is simply an apologist for everything Birmingham Airport. He completely ignores the modal shift from air to rail in intercity services and those to the near continent already taking place.
The Possible High Speed Rail Routes
to the City and the Possible Terminals:
Firstly I freely admit I want the maximum benefits for the West Midlands and Birmingham benefits High Speed Rail Line will bring as it has done in Continental Europe.
Greengauge 21 (G21) are clearly in a cleft stick They do not want to upset the myopic Gateway supporters and to avoid doing so they (G21) would be cautious not to upset the ‘Myopic Five’ who are recognised for their tunnel vision and defensive tendency where Gateway is concerned.
Any proper study of rail transport links into the City must include existing corridors and existing stations but ‘Grand Central should be included and G21 should insist on including Grand Central in the terms of reference of the proposed study’.
Only then would the final result stand some chance of providing the best long-term solution to present and future transport needs of the region.
The emphasis by G21 for the route via Oxford is puzzling as this route is likely to omit Milton Keynes/Rugby/Coventry, all of which are larger than Oxford. The ultimate solution is for the High Speed line to serve Coventry Birmingham International and the City of Birmingham. To do so would require use of the Rugby Coventry Birmingham line, which was proposed for four tracking not so many years ago and would provide the higher speed alignment with less difficulty than via Solihull.
All trains would stop at Coventry and most at Birmingham International and the speed profile need not be such a problem to fit in to the present alignment with limited modification to maximise it. Much of the line is in cutting leading to lower noise profiles in a dense urban area and there are few sections where significant properties would be seriously affected.
Great Western Main Line
There were four tracks but at stations car parks have been built on the formation and the route was planned to carry one of the metro lines into the City. The alignment was built for steam and 200mph would be very difficult. More importantly this route would not link the airport and Coventry. It would most likely result in Birmingham being at the end of a 100mph-branch line.
Whichever route is chosen would still be better served by a ‘Grand Central’ and without expensive tunnelling.
It is worth quoting the recent study by York Aviation for the City of London Corporation ‘Aviation Services and the City’
…. it is essential that these links (High Speed Rail) are time efficient and do not involve changes.
70% of those interviewed would change to rail for journeys under 3hours
For Birmingham this would include Glasgow/Edinburgh/ and all south. York Aviation clearly would not support Birmingham International for Birmingham Though any of these solutions are better than none they all disperse rail communications across a multitude of constricted sites limiting future development and preventing significant multi- mode access, and impose unnecessary costs. They do therefore signify failure to develop a secure transport future for us all in the West Midlands. More and more all the pointers are to a Grand Central solution
Appraising Grand Central
The original Grand Central site has not yet been built on. Even the CPO process has not been completed, and could still be halted and the site put to better use for Grand Central
Failing this the Grand Central could be built somewhere in the box formed by Adderley Park/Proof House/Duddeston/Neachels/Adderley Park.
Action should be taken to prevent the Myopic Four preventing this from happening.
A total of £2billion is enough to build a Grand Central with ease On value for money Grand Central and in their heart of Hearts G21 know this. Let’s hope the city transport planners and even the Myopic Four will see the light and extend the study to include Grand Central.
So let’s include a Grand Central, it could be built on its original propose site or anywhere in the area bounded by Adderley Park/Proof House junction/Neachells.
It could be situated where the Camp Hill line passes underneath the Birmingham Coventry line
Built as a two-level station with Kings Heath, Solihull services using Bordesley Curve and St Andrews curve to run via Grand Central into and through New Street
Perhaps the Myopic Four should read the York Aviation consultant’s report prepared for the City of London which makes this telling comment
“If the option was there (high speed rail), we would do all our domestic travel by high-speed train. It is simply a better and more efficient experience”
If you believe Birmingham has a future we need the High Speed Rail Links to North and South
A station suitable for the best City and Region means only Grand Central will do.
Anything else is second best and we’ve been there.
Let’s get on with it.