High-speed rail plan blasted as ‘crazy’

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Protesters have slammed the Government’s controversial high-speed rail plan – branding it a “mad scheme”.

Nobody spoke in favour of the HS2 project during a debate at Chesterfield’s Winding Wheel this week.

The proposed Birmingham to Leeds leg of the route is expected to cut through many parts of Derbyshire, including Killamarsh, Renishaw and Staveley.

However, the 250mph trains will not stop in the county.

HS2 protester David King, of Renishaw, faces losing his home as it lies in the way of the planned line.

He told the meeting: “It’s a complete and utter disaster.

“We get no gain in Derbyshire – just pain.

“There won’t even be a station here yet it’ll wreck homes and livelihoods.

“I’m 72 next month and have received a Compulsory Purchase Order on my house – I don’t want to be forced to move at my age.

“I can’t see any good at all in HS2 but sadly I think it will go ahead.”

Mr King said he had seen grown men cry after they found out their homes were under threat from HS2.

Alan Curtis, of Chesterfield, added: “It’s a mad scheme.

“There’s a false assumption that the current rail network can’t be improved - but it can. Look at the Robin Hood line, for example.

“There’s been no effective market survey to find out who would use HS2 and I think it’s crazy to say that this faster service will generate any income.

“While all this money is being squandered on HS2, important things like improving flood defences are losing out.”

Another protester said: “We’re making it quicker to get to London but how is that going to help us here in Derbyshire? I can’t see what the benefits are.”

Other concerns raised included the possible risk to historical buildings and the destruction of wildlife.

The proposed HS2 route is intended to link London to Birmingham by 2026, with branches to Manchester and Leeds planned by 2032.

The Government estimates the cost of building HS2 to be £42.6bn.

Nobody from HS2 Ltd was present at Monday night’s meeting despite being invited.

Experts predict the building of the HS2 route will create thousands of local jobs and speed up journey times.