Tunnelling through Hillingdon?

Appeared on the Gazette website on the 26th of April 2011:

ONE of the areas of HS2 that has managed to stay relatively under the radar is the Heathrow spur.

How many of you south of the A40 realise that if HS2 goes ahead they will be building a link from Northolt or West Ruislip to Heathrow?

The plans show four track interchanges being built at Northolt and Ruislip in Stage 1, so at Stage 2 of the construction they will be able to link HS2 to Heathrow. How do you get in a straight line from either of those places to Heathrow?

Yep you’ve guessed it – straight through Hillingdon, via Hayes or near Long Lane right through Yiewsley, West Drayton , and/or maybe Harlington.

Can you imagine the nightmare and devastation? Maps suggest it will be tunnelled but even that leads to house demolitions for air vents and so on.

It will have a detrimental effect on where you live. Importantly, there is no guarantee that it will be tunnelled – tunnelling is more expensive and has been ruled out in other areas, including Ruislip and Ickenham due to cost.

Our own council and our own MPs have failed to win this fight for Hillingdon residents thus far so I don’t how optimistic we can be that the Government would choose to spend the money to tunnel the route later on.

They are committed to building the spur though. It was the Tories main change to Labour’s original HS2 proposal and they will not give up on it.

The spur is part of a loop so it will then have to leave Heathrow to rejoin the main track again at either West Ruislip (if it doesn’t originate there) or more likely somewhere out in Buckinghamshire. Again people living in Hillingdon could potentially be in the path of the exit route as well as the entry, though maybe it will go out through Iver and ruin all of that area. I’ve heard it could go through Black Park on its way up to rejoin the tracks north of the A40. There’s no definites but I’ve heard that more than once. So we lose HOAC, Savay Lake, and maybe Black Park in the longer term – there truly are no benefits to this route to this area.

Also, did you know if you commute from Hillingdon or Uxbridge by Tube your journey will be less comfortable, as the 12,000 users of the Central Line find alternative routes to work while bridges are rebuilt and the tracks are moved, closed and/or rebuilt?

If you cross the A40 or use it to travel anywhere, or particularly commute, you will not want it closed while the spur is built in Stage 2, you will not want the Hanger Lane gyratory closed for months during construction of Stage 1 – ie, in a few years’ time.

If you opposed the third runway, you should consider opposing HS2, as anything that encourages travellers to access Heathrow from further away will potentially increase the demand for flights, and this many lead to a resurgence in the argument for a third runway. A flight to Glasgow, including check in time from Heathrow, will still be quicker than a High Speed Rail train to Glasgow, so people will still want internal flights. So you get a double whammy: continued demand for existing flights and increased demand from new passengers accessing Heathrow.

The current consultation is the ONLY consultation on the route, so if you live anywhere in the south of the borough you should reply now, saying you do not want HS2 for your sake, your childrens’ sake and your grandchildrens’ sake. They will be paying for it and living in a Hillingdon that has been carved up, all over for one luxury, fat cat train route.

While all of us who use public transport daily to get to work, shops or other things will still be struggling around on the same old tired, overcrowded routes.

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