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Linked to this has been the question of whether HS2 would pass over the WCML or under it. This has also been discussed with the Sec. of State for Transport, involving our local MP, Michael Fabricant. If the line were to go under the WCML, it would also run at a lower level where it crosses our slipway at Cappers Lane, involving the demolition of the Cappers Lane Bridge. The L&HCRT did some work to identify a possible solution to divert their canal if this option was followed, and this could also have avoided the need for the double canal crossing at Wood End. At the latest IWA Committee meeting, Peter Walker (Engineering Manager (South), CRT) stated that in his latest meeting with HS2 he had been informed that the line would not be changed at Wood End, and if CRT wished to persue it further they would need to petition the Bill when published, which would involve a full design by qualified rail engineers to prove that it could be made to work – at considerable expense to CRT! He also thought that HS2 would be sticking with the high level crossing of the WCML, which whilst very environmentally intrusive, would at least remove the difficulties for the L&HCRT at Capper Lane. There is a further meeting of the local Consultative Forum scheduled for September 23rd at which I am expecting to get confirmation of these facts, but I don’t think it will go down very well with the locals!


I am now in the process of contacting those responsible for the moorings affected by phase 2 to feed back comments to the committee.


The other critical issue identified on phase 1 by CRT is the approach viaduct/bridge to Curzon Street station over the Digbeth Branch. At last Thursday’s meeting, they reported that their latest meeting with HS2’s architects was very positive, with an acceptance of all the goals that CRT are keen to achieve (i.e. avoidance of anti-social behaviour blackspot, using the canal as part of the station complex and encouraging more use of the Digbeth Branch – there is even talk of incorporating a mooring basin into the design). CRT are to appoint Urbed to prepare a scheme for this area, but recognise the need to influence Birmingham City Council to ensure their vision for the area is adopted.


On phase 2, CRT have identified 2 key issues; 1) the damage to the restoration scheme for the Chesterfield, and 2) the proximity of the link into Leeds to the Aire & Calder in the Woodlesford area, where the line runs parallel with, and adjacent to, the navigation for a considerable distance on a raised viaduct.


On the Chesterfield, Geraint Coles (Development Manager, Chesterfield Canal, Chesterfield DC) is shortly leaving his post to take up an academic appointment in East Anglia, but will still be retaining an interest in the Chesterfield through other organisations with which he is involved.


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