The debate about the current proposals for a new rail line between London and Birmingham (known as High Speed 2 – HS2) has become extremely polarised. The detail of the Government’s economic case for HS2 has been the focus, rather than the broader context. As a result strategic challenges are being missed, such as the need for carbon emissions from transport to be reduced significantly and for decision-making to recognise the value of the natural and historic environment.
The Right Lines Charter, launched in April 2011, sets out four principles for doing High Speed Rail well. Because the impacts of HS2 would depend so much on the wider context, the Charter highlights the need for new approaches to transport planning, appraisal, public engagement and design. The Charter is being used to challenge the way the HS2 proposals have been developed and the context they have been developed in.
The signatories to the Charter believe that:
the process and particular proposals for High Speed Rail should comply with four principles
- the Government’s High Speed Rail consultation and detailed High Speed 2 (HS2) proposals are unsound at present and fall well short of these principles.
In the lead up to the Government’s decision to proceed with HS2, Charter signatories published a report setting out next steps for the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP.
On 10 January 2012, the Government announced it had decided to proceed with HS2. Charter signatories have responded invidually and we will be continuing to work together to challenge the Government to do more. The recommendations in the Next steps report form the basis of this work.