Council leaders hit back at HS2 plans to axe rail line
LEADERS of councils representing Bucks have hit out at plans to close a rail line in the county because of HS2.
The HS2 hybrid bill, which lays out the plans for the development of the first phase of HS2, would involve closing the High Wycombe Single Line (HWSL) which links parts of Bucks with London.
In a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, the leaders of five councils in Bucks say: “The HWSL is a route that we consider of great importance to the long term economic prospects of the communities we represent.
“It provides a direct link between Buckinghamshire and the proposed station at Old Oak Common. This station will become one of the best connected transport hubs in the country, with links to the Great Western Mainline, Crossrail, HS2 and Heathrow Airport.
“In addition, the area around the Old Oak Common station is due to be redeveloped. The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation aims to create up to 24,000 new homes and 55,000 new jobs across the 155 hectare site.
“As a result, this area will become a desirable location for employment and retail opportunities, particularly for residents of Buckinghamshire, as well as many others served by the HWSL.”
The aspect of the Bill that they are urging him to amend concerns the realignment of the Great Western Mainline(GW ML) to make room for the construction of Old Oak Common station. This has the effect of severing the existing HWSL.
Chiltern Railways, who operate regular passenger services over the HWSL, have told the Bucks leaders that it is both physically possible and cost effective to maintain the HWSL within the Old Oak Common station layout.
Graham Cross, Director of Chiltern Railways said: “At Chiltern Railways we see very considerable benefit for people in Buckinghamshire of a direct rail service to the proposed new station at Old Oak Common from 2026.
“This will make many cross London journeys faster, make it easier to get from Buckinghamshire to Heathrow Airport by train, and afford direct access for residents to the many new jobs which are expected to be created in the London Mayor led development at Old Oak Common.
“We too are recommending to the Secretary of State that the provisions in the HS2 Hybrid Bill which would currently prevent trains running from the Chiltern route to Old Oak Common are removed, and we support the position of the Councils.”