250 mph high speed trains will affect more than ten northern canals and waterways on their Y shaped route from Birmingham to ‘Leeds, Manchester and Beyond’ according to Government proposals announced on January 28th. There will be about 15 actual waterway crossings, some on long embankments and viaducts.
UPDATE April 22nd The IWA has now announced that it is putting together a working group to co-ordinate a campaign to modify and improve the alignment of HS2 route where it adversely impacts on the inland waterways – both for existing navigable waterways, and for waterways under restoration. The Association will shortly be consulting with all IWA branches – even those branches a long way from the rail route have members who go boating in affected areas.
Some parts of the routes do follow established ‘communication corridors’, running alongside motorways or existing rail lines, but in other places the roar of the trains will be a new distraction to the calm of rural canals. All this provided the £30 billion plans are agreed and given 20 years for construction to be completed.
The western leg from Birmingham to Manchester will run from Lichfield up the Trent Valley and parallel to the Trent & Mersey canal for over 60 miles to near Northwich, rarely more than 2 miles from the canal, except around Crewe where it heads west and dives into a 2.5 mile tunnel to an interchange station. Between Middlewich and Winsford it will cross on a 745 metre long viaduct over the Trent and Mersey Canal and the River Dane floodplain and bridge the Shropshire Union Middlewich branch near Minshull Vernon. A link to the West Coast Mainline near Warrington will cross the Bridgewater Canal near Lymn before soaring 28 metres high over the Manchester Ship Canal on a mile long viaduct.
The eastern leg to Leeds will cross the Coventry Canal near Polesworth, follow close to the old Ashby Canal route near Measham and cross the floodplain of the River Soar on a two mile long viaduct, briefly cutting through the Red Hill at Ratcliffe-on- Soar power station before crossing the River Trent and its floodplain on another long viaduct of just over one mile in length. Running up along the Erewash Valley it will then follow the M1 from Toton to Staveley where a maintenance depot is planned. The line to this depot would run within a few metres of the new Staveley Town Basin. The plans impinge on the proposed Chesterfield Canal restoration route of the canal in five places. The route continues towards Sheffield alongside the River Rother all the way to Treeton, covering two thirds of the route of the proposed Rother Link. (The Chesterfield Trust is understandably concerned about this part of the route, see the Chesterfield Trust Website.) The line will then cross the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigations near Tinsley and the Aire and Calder on a 18 metre high .6 mile viaduct east of Wakefield, and again near Rothwell.