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Tuesday, 19 February 2013


** The basic objectives of the Reopen the Woodhead Line campaign are still what they always were:

.  The transport bottleneck over the Dark Peak needs a solution. For various environmental reasons this calls for a railway and not another motorway. The local impact of a motorway would be horrific, and although Britain's carbon targets get forgotten about for long periods, that issue has not gone away and it will look worse when the next panic sets in.

Manchester and Sheffield have inadequate rail links for cities of their size and importance. The improvements announced are welcome -- enhancement of the Hope Valley line and the electrification of the Huddersfield line (if that counts as a link with Sheffield) together with links between the Manchester termini. However in the last resort this is housekeeping where a strategy is what is needed.

The HS2 proposals are at last official. The regulars at the Woodhead meetings have been considering the proposals in draft for years, and our number happens to include a genuine expert civil engineer. As we see it, it's impossible to think of Woodhead in isolation from this. Nobody, not even the management of the HS2 project, is claiming that the route as proposed is how it will finally turn out. The Woodhead group welcomes the opportunities that HS2 provides, and in a fully constructive spirit we feel we should press immediately for a change to the HS2 approach to Manchester. This envisages something over 7 miles of tunneling under residential areas, when there is a first class rail route (Woodhead) from the east still substantially in place. The tunnels and the solum will need further expansion, but that looks a rather 'minor' issue compared with boring 7 miles under south Manchester. It also offers the opportunity for an east-west rail freight link between Immingham and Liverpool. The government are at least thinking strategically now, so we feel we should press for enhancements to the strategy at this early stage. **

The next meeting (Thur 21 Feb, 7.30 p.m. in Glossop Labour Club, Chapel Street Glossop) will be setting a date and place for our next public presentation.