New HS2 tunnel proposed in North Warwickshire

Plans have been unveiled for a new ‘deep bored’ tunnel to take the proposed HS2 railway under the busy M42 motorway in North Warwickshire.

Warwickshire County Council has successfully lobbied for a tunnel at M42 Junction 10 near Birchmoor as part of the updated proposals for HS2 Phase 2b, which runs through 18 kilometres of North Warwickshire from Kingsbury to the Leicestershire border.

The Government has launched a consultation on 11 proposed changes to the design of Phase 2b – a mixture of relocations and realignments, new infrastructure and the introduction of new scope to the railway design. In Warwickshire, the changes proposed are the realignment of the route at Junction 10 of the M42 and the introduction of a maintenance facility at Austrey, North Warwickshire.

The new 2km twin-bored tunnel stretches from south of the motorway junction near Tamworth to the B5000 at Pooley. The alignment change moves the railway 20 metres east into Kingsbury Water Park, where a large embankment has been added to the design.

Cllr Jeff Clarke, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Transport, said:

“The motorway junction where the M42 meets the A5 is of major strategic importance to Warwickshire and the wider regional economic objectives of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Midlands Connect, so we view this as a significant and positive shift in HS2 policy. The county council has advocated this solution because the previous proposal would have resulted in immense disruption over five years for thousands of motorists and severed the community at Birchmoor.

“We will continue to scrutinise the plans in more detail as we are mindful that it includes amendments affecting Kingsbury Water Park and the introduction of major rail infrastructure next the village of Austrey. The county council’s consultation response will be publicly available in late August, before the consultation closes.”

The proposal for an Infrastructure Maintenance Base at Austrey includes two 825 metre sidings, access road, lighting and staff facilities. It will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide maintenance to the HS2 route after the passenger trains have finished running.

Cllr Bob Stevens, Warwickshire County Council’s spokesman on HS2, said:

“We are concerned that HS2 is intending to build new permanent rail infrastructure so close to the unspoilt village of Austrey. The impact of light and noise pollution on a quiet rural setting cannot be underestimated and seems totally unsuitable in this location.”

The Secretary of State will decide whether to include the proposed changes in the Phase 2b design following consideration of the feedback to the consultation, which closes on September 6.

The HS2 eastern leg to Leeds is proposed to run through North Warwickshire, directly affecting communities at Bodymoor Heath, Kingsbury, Birchmoor, Polesworth, Warton and Austrey.

HS2 Ltd’s plan is for construction to start on Phase 2b in 2026 and the railway to be operational in 2033. To enable the line to be built, hybrid bill legislation will need to be deposited to Parliament, currently scheduled for summer 2020.

To access the consultation documents and for details on how to respond, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/hs2-phase-2b-design-refinement-consultation

If you have any questions related to this consultation, please contact the HS2 Helpdesk on 08081 434 434 or email HS2enquiries@hs2.org.uk