Residents in the Chilterns have launched a new bid to get HS2 tunnel lengths extended and is now targeting HS2’s design teams.
The Wendover Society is leading a group of more than nine organisations in the Chiltern region who have signed a letter – seen by GE – to CEK JV executive director Sean Jeffery and Align JV project director Jérômé Furge.
The north portal of the Chilterns tunnel near South Heath marks the intersection of the tunnels being designed by Align and the at grade section of HS2 being designed by CEK.
According to Colin Scully of the Wendover Society, there is a broader issue about the design of this section of the line that “cannot be sensibly discussed at our local meetings”.
Calls for the tunnel to be extended northwards through the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB) were rejected ahead of passing of the HS2 Phase 1 Bill on the basis of additional costs outweighing the benefits.
The Wendover Society-led group is now calling for Align and CEK to reconsider the option based on the additional data that would have been gathered to support the design work.
“As your two companies begin to pull to together better information about the geology and
hydrology in the Chilterns AONB, so we assume you will be reviewing in detail the most
appropriate engineering designs, what rates of progress might be assumed and the costs,” said Sully. “In doing so we hope that you will at least re-visit the issue of the relative merits of additional tunnelling, which could remove or significantly reduce a great many of the engineering challenges listed above. This is especially important at this time as a number of these key issues in the AONB can only be sensibly resolved by considering the impacts across the contract ‘intersection’. It is also important to review these issues at this time as the pressure to reach sign-off of the detailed design will inevitably increase next year.”
Sully is calling for additional meetings with Align and CEK to discuss the issue.
A spokesperson for HS2 told GE that parliament “extensively scrutinised” the design of the entire railway during the three-year parliamentary process.
The spokesperson said: “In making a decision on the Chilterns Tunnel, parliament considered mitigation levels, the feasibility of the various options and their effects on traffic, and cost. By bringing forward a 2.6km extension HS2 and the Government showed that it listened to communities.”
The spokesperson did not state whether there was scope for such significant design changes at this stage but added: “HS2 received Royal Assent in February 2017. Now our main works contractors are developing their detailed plans for the line’s construction.”