PGS: Main Rail Lines through the Chilterns
While supporting in principle the shift of passenger and freight traffic from road to rail, the Chiltern Society will seek to avoid or minimise any associated adverse effects.
Potential issues include noise and vibration from more or heavier trains, visual impact from modifications to track infrastructure, and miscellaneous impacts of any related development such as road-rail freight interchanges or station expansions.
• Trains and rail equipment should be designed to reduce running noise to a minimum;
• Tree and shrub planting alongside tracks should be maximised to provide visual screening as well as some degree of noise absorption;
• In strategic locations, acoustic fencing should also be employed;
• When general track improvements are taking place, any crossing rights of way should be upgraded to bridge or tunnel provision;
• Any road-rail freight interchanges should be sited in localities causing least air, noise and light pollution to neighbouring houses, and on brownfield sites if at all possible; they must not be located in the AONB or Green Belt.
Any increase in freight services should not be at the expense of passenger services. This is particularly relevant to the Chiltern Line where improvements to High Wycombe-Aylesbury passenger services should be a priority to cope with any increased commuting from the Aylesbury-Milton Keynes growth area.
Network Rail's Freight Route Utilisation Strategy (March 2007), and the Delivering A Sustainable Railway White Paper (July 2007), both covering the period until 2014, seek a minor increase in freight capacity on our part of the West Coast Main Line, achieved by timetabling adjustments. There are no plans for width enhancements to accommodate larger freight containers within this period.
The Chiltern Line is not mentioned specifically in the Freight Strategy, but Network Rail has just started work on a West Midlands and Chilterns Rail Utilisation Strategy, with consultation expected in Winter 2008/09. The Chiltern Society will study this document and respond appropriately.
The Strategic Rail Authority in its 2004 Strategic Rail Freight Interchange Policy pointed out the obvious cost-effectiveness and efficiency merits of locating freight interchange facilities where rail lines and motorways intersect (e.g. close to the M25). However, the Government or Network Rail do not have a role in bringing forward specific proposals, this being left to private promoters.
Approved by EC 21.09.01
Reviewed MC 23.03.08
Approved Convenor's Meeting 13.06.08