A meeting of minds

I have very fond memories of the Stop HS2 National Convention that was held just up the road from where I live, at the Stoneleigh Park Exhibition and Conference Centre. It was February 2011, which seems an age ago now, and our action group was little more than half a year old. Despite our inexperience we knew that in a matter of a few days we could expect to be drawn into the five-month process of formulating and submitting a response to the key public consultation on the HS2 proposal, including the route for what we now call Phase 1.

The excellent facilities of the venue seemed to be pretty-well full with punters like myself, giving the place a real buzz; I have seen various estimates of the numbers, ranging from “more than five hundred” to “about seven hundred”. It felt good to be part of such a large gathering of like-minded souls, all wanting to see the demise of the “HS2 white elephant”.

I was amazed at the slick organisation – an indication of just what was possible with the combined talents of the action groups along the line – and even more so in the realisation that much of what happened on the day was down to the dynamism and organisational ability of one individual, Lizzie Williams, who was then the Chairman of Stop HS2.

My only complaint about the day was that there was far too much on offer, and I was called to make some really tough decisions. I really hate having to do that; I have a similar problem with restaurant menus, and always dither and wonder, when I do eventually make a choice, what unknown delights I might be missing. On the day, I opted for the events in the main hall at the start and end of the day, plus two environmental sessions from the seven streams that were on offer in the subsidiary rooms.

Whilst the environmental sessions were extremely useful to me – I started this blogsite up less than a month later – I can’t help but wonder, looking at the programme of events that I still have – whether I made the best choices.

So I am pleased that I am being given another chance, and will be able to pick up some different topics at the new Stop HS2 Convention that will be held on Saturday 29th June 2013. The reason for holding a national convention for the second time is, of course, that the community of those opposed to HS2 has been swollen recently by the announcement of the provisional route for the Phase 2 extensions to Manchester and Leeds. With the travel needs of the newcomers very much in mind, the event has been moved northwards from Warwickshire to the Staffordshire County Showground, which is on the A518 Weston Road about four miles east of Stafford. The hope is that the location will prove a convenient compromise for both Phase 1 and Phase 2 folks, and will be a nexus to unite both.

The Staffordshire County Showground looks to be every bit as well appointed as the Stoneleigh venue that served us so well in 2011. So I am really looking forward to another stimulating and rewarding day, and experiencing the feeling of camaraderie that we should all benefit from.

The organisers promise us “plenty of free parking” and refreshments will be on sale to fortify us. There will be over twenty-five events laid on for our delectation; these, we are promised, will tell us “everything you want to know about case against HS2 and how to oppose it”. If you don’t find that prospect exciting enough, the chance to “meet Ellie the blow-up white elephant” will surely convince you that this is an event that you cannot afford to miss.

A provisional list of the sessions that will be offer indicates that I will again struggle to choose a personal attendance list. One that I will not be able to avoid is “Noise impacts of HS2” because this session will be HS2 and the environment LIVE, given by yours truly. I hope that this will give me the chance to meet some of my readers and, possibly, recruit a few more.

We are all being asked to buy our tickets in advance, in order to avoid the inconvenience of having to queue at the door. Your local action group contacts may be able to provide tickets, but probably the most convenient way is to buy on line.

In order to judge the demand for the sessions that are on offer and to allocate rooms appropriately, the organisers would be obliged if you were to indicate the four workshops that you are most interested in attending using the simple on-line survey form.

I hope to see you there.



2 responses to this post.

  1. I wish your Stafford convention well but there is one item on the agenda that bothers me titled “International comparisons – Why high speed rail hasn’t worked”. There is a natural tendency among HS2 objectors to denigrate rail in general in their quest to stop HS2. But HS rail has been phenomenally successful in many countries and new lines are currently being built. If we need a new HS line in UK (and the case is not yet proven) we need one that serves the nation rather than connecting just a few cities to London We can learn from others. The Chinese have built a vast mileage of HS lines for 400km/ running but have found it uneconomical to run at that speed. French rail president Msr Pepy said in York that high speed lines should connect with other lines and other transport modes. He rued that France had built its TGV routes as if they were independent lines and had stations with no regional connections to rail or other passenger transport. HS1 in Kent was not built to the plan initially put forward by the rail industry but has finished up with 85% of it beside older railways, beside motorway or in tunnel. With HS2 we have not learned the lessons and that is why the project is so deeply unpopular with the public.


  2. Posted by chriseaglen on June 21, 2013 at 10:23 am

    HS1 was emergent from the freight connectivity to build Eurotunnel and then centred around several key movement yards at Dolland Moor and Ebbsfleet later as CTRL HS1 now.

    The integration into the Network Rail was in many ways from several nodes of fortune.

    HS2 cannot do this on the current alignment but will cost a fortune for little freight and commuter railway direct new services only the keep using the discarded train paths. These may not arise if people want lower fares and not the high speed premium.
    hish speed rail and larger loading gause rail and more tracks available rail are different design andplanning criteria and HS2 ploughed one criteria rather than examine what was viable and would help relieve network issues. Hence ending with the parallelism and disconnects.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: