Wednesday, 11 September 2019

South Northants District Council area needs re-railing

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

ERTA has opposed HS2 as it is in our view the wrong type of railway. It, as a high speed design and construe will not have any intermediate stations between Old Oak Common (part of West London) and Solihull (West Midlands). However, like the M40, such nodic corridors attract development and sprawl and that in turn will have to go on already congested local roads and rails. Boris Johnson seems to be u-turning on it, whereas hitherto he was against, now is lauding it? If Birmingham wants another rail link to London for speed or capacity, you don't need the cost and intrusion of a 'high speed' rail link. A conventional railway design with inclusive intermediate stations at places like near Southam and the interception of the A43 and A421 could be done, more in-keeping and less speed, 125 mph is quite adequate, 180 mph is excessive and costly and given shorter distances than the minimum efficient distance of 127 miles between Paris and Lille, will never be reached in such short and confined distances. So at £100 billion when for the last 8 years austerity has been meted out - the crisis in social care being one aspect - seems imprudent to say the least. IF there was a toning down to a conventional design, THEN a Great Central rail link could be joined to it around the Calvert area and serve outlying places like Brackley/A43/Silverstone areas (with bus links), Woodford Halse (a growth area) and a shared station on the A425 half way between Daventry and Southam (both not served by a railway and growing areas). 

South Northants is growing like it or not. Warehouses attract lorries which pound local roads fuelling demand for more maintenance costs and adding to congestion and blight. The area boasts one of the few if single local authority area without any railway station. How can that be sustainable? The total reliance on the car - even with electric conversion coming on stream, still aggregates to demand for parking in places like Northampton, Milton Keynes and elsewhere which cannot be serviced and costs creep in. Moreover an ageing population means more may not wish to drive and may have a tough decision to move to a bus route or urban area leaving rural tranquillity behind for others or face rural isolation. 

ERTA calls for a study to be commissioned to look at a new build corridor recovery of the former Great Central corridor with a link to the existing railway at Rugby. Likewise we call for a study to look at stations at Castlethorpe and Roade. Both growing areas and driving to Milton Keynes takes more than 10 minutes and parking is at a premium. The presumption and hypothecation of isolationism cannot go on. Yes, not every inch of the former route of the Great Central may be used, some realignments/new build like getting around Brackley will need to be looked at and a new route found. Unless we study it now and protect options, sprawl will lock-in a roads only solution and that harms old and young people as well as missing out on commuting options both direct to Aylesbury, London and Heathrow on the one side, and Bicester and Oxford on the other and vice-versa - footfall and spend keeping small businesses open. If you agree please add your voice and make it heard to the powers that be by writing to:
a. your local MP Andrea Leadsom c/o 4a, 138 Watling Street East, Towcester, Northamptonshire, NN12 6BT
b. South Northants District Council (Planning until unitary comes into being): The Forum, Moat Lane, Towcester NN12 6AD
c. Northamptonshire County Council (transport policy) c/o One Angel SquareAngel StreetNorthamptonNN1 1ED
d. Mr Chris Heaton-Harris, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA (Daventry Constituency)
You are not powerless, together we can make a difference over time and the single step today can be delivery in 5 or 10 years time. The worst outcome is inaction with development creeping in, congestion and parking issues and spiralling costs and no rail alternative options. For the sake of your off-spring, don't let that be your legacy for family, community and ultimately (as the model repeats) country.

ERTA has and is working hard to nurture rail choice including a Bedford-Northampton rail link (extension of Thameslink to Northampton giving more choices) and land needs protecting around Great Houghton to let the railway get through. It would serve Brackmills, a main employment and congestion hot spot commanding its own bus services and the new Waterside University Campus, Delapre Abbey and South Northampton generally giving direct access to and from Bedford, but also Luton Airport, St Pancras International Eurostar and Gatwick Airport and the South Coast. 

Milton Keynes has a capacity problem on and off the rails and so other options are necessary. However HS2 won't cater for it. We need dedicated people to join us in the fight and support our causes please. I attach I attach a diagram which can be enlightening. HS2 will not parallel the M1 or the M40, so as far as choice to congested roads go, will be useless, and whose money is paying the £billions anyway? If the Chinese or overseas others, they will want a slice of real estate, power and wider influence and yet one just has to see the intense surveillance and lack of democracy, human rights and punity of some of these countries which may be otherwise affluent and oil-rich, a solitary lesson that less can be gain in some cases, whilst adequacy is also a legitimate test to see whether areas like South Northants, geographically central, pass it.

Details of our Forums can be found via our website: and inparticular you may wish to pass on to colleagues the following: 

Northampton Heritage Fair – Saturday 14 September

11am – 4pmAbington Park MuseumPark Avenue SouthNorthamptonNN1 5LW

Aylesbury Forum – Saturday 21 September,  2:00pm – Food and Social; 3:00 – 5:00pm – BusinessThe Bell40 Market SquareAylesburyBuckinghamshireHP20 1TX and 

Northampton Forum – Tuesday 8 October2:00pm – Venue tba. For more details please contact my colleague Mr Simon Barber: 

T. 0208 940 4399, E. All welcome.

Thank you for listening. Apologies for any duplication, however informed.  

Yours sincerely,

Richard Pill
ERTA Chairman

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