Rail freight fight - letters special

PUBLISHED: 11:44 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:11 06 May 2010

Rail freight fight — letters special SIR -The developers for the proposed railfreight interchange (RFI) in Park Street were criticised for not considering alternative sites. In a new but brief report they suggest that Sundon Quarry (north west of Luton) a

Rail freight fight - letters special

SIR -The developers for the proposed railfreight interchange (RFI) in Park Street were criticised for not considering alternative sites. In a new but brief report they suggest that Sundon Quarry (north west of Luton) and Park Street are similar sites.

What is not so clear is that Sundon is industrial and Park Street is the last major area of green belt between St Albans and London.

That Sundon is a preferred site for a RFI and Park Street is not. That Sundon is opposite a proposed new motorway exit with a dual carriageway and Park Street is not. That Sundon has rail access to the north as well as the south and Park Street does not. That 20m-high buildings are not an issue in Sundon but would have significant impact in Park Street and block views of St Albans for rail travellers. That Sundon Park area is identified as a 'relatively large employment area' and Park Street area is not. That house prices in Sundon area are considerably more affordable than Park Street area. That Sundon site is clear of major housing and Park Street site abuts residential Park Street.

Or that a RFI would be welcomed in Sundon and is vigorously opposed in Park Street.

CHRIS ADKINS

Glenbower Court

Hatfield Road

St Albans

SIR -The Herts Advertiser is to be congratulated on engaging so effectively with the local community in its Put The Brakes On Freight! campaign to help stop the rail freight depot application being approved.

So far, the focus has been on the impact it would have on Park Street and St Albans and their residents. But, as your paper's front page titlehead states, the Herts Advertiser serves not only the community of St Albans, but that of Harpenden too.

Whilst St Albans' MP, Anne Main, is certainly doing her bit, and has also recently met with First Capital Connect's managing director, and others, shouldn't Harpenden commuters and residents and their MP, Peter Lilley, also be getting invoived? The likely delays and disruptions caused by any infrastructure works and the actual daily dozen of extra freight trains and their return workings will affect thousands of people there too.

And why stop at St Albans and Harpenden? The whole route will be affected from St Pancras right up to Bedford, but with knock-on repercussions south of London's suburbs all the way down to Brighton, as regular travellers on the Thameslink route know only too well when things go wrong. To use newspaper speak, more "rail chaos".

No one yet appears to have contacted the East Midlands Train Company, whose expresses speed up and down our lines, and who also need to use Elstree and Belsize junctions and tunnels.

Its passengers to and from Sheffield, Nottingham and Leicester and the capital won't appreciate slower or delayed journeys. Bad for business all round.

Could the Herts Advertiser, as part of its invaluable campaign, please seek to engage with the relevant MPs and with First Capital Connect, and ensure that they liaise with their fellow colleagues and rail companies?

It's just possible, as happened with the first application, that they haven't heard of, or realised the implications of Helioslough's plans for their residents and passengers.

Meanwhile, the St Albans Civic Society will be alerting its fellow organisations along the route.

All his should help confound Helioslough's previous QC's allegation against our council of' parochialism and failure to see the bigger picture. Alas, we see the picture all too clearly!

A word of warning: whilst the ability to find pathways for all the extra freightliners proposed by Helioslough is questionable, Network Rail must be challenged to prove this would work realistically without detriment to other services, both now and when the long-awaited Thameslink 2000 works finally come to fruition. And this applies to any putative alternative site near Luton as well!

Otherwise, the rail freight application becomes somewhat bogus, and should surely be deemed invalid. If it gets through, we end up with the possibility of a depot being built that needs to be serviced by more and more, and bigger and bigger juggernaut lorries. This must not happen.

ERIC ROBERTS

St Albans Civic Society

SIR - I would like to register my very strong objections to the proposed Rail Freight terminal. I am struggling to understand why this proposal has been allowed to be resubmitted after it was previously rejected.

As a resident of Park Street, I can tell you that the heavy road traffic coming through the village is already excessive. The thought of the additional traffic in the area that will be a consequence of the freight terminal is mind-boggling.

I can also tell you that, as a commuter, I travel daily on the First Capital Connect train service. I use the term "service" very loosely, as this company is already struggling to offer even a reasonable service to its customers. The additional rail traffic will undoubtedly cause a total collapse in the train service.

My understanding is that council planners are there to protect the people who live in the area from developers who do not care about the consequences of their proposal.

As planners, their role is to consider the effects of development on the following: the environment, safety, aesthetics, light and sound, urbanisation and transport, to name a few.

I would like to believe that if just one of these criteria was being transgressed, it would be grounds for the dismissal of the planning application. In this case, when all of the planning criteria have been transgressed, it is impossible to comprehend why this proposal is even being considered, and to make the situation even more incredible this application is on a green field site.

The local people of St Albans and Park Street will suffer greatly if this terminal were to be developed; please do not let that happen.

NIC PEARCE

Hawfield Gardens

Park Street

SIR - How is it that Helioslough want another line in the east when they already have planning permission for one via Shellhaven. This will use the East of England line which already has high enough bridges that can take two of the new larger European containers; the Thameslink line cannot, at present, take these.

Also all the trains from the north will have to go to Cricklewood in north London and turn around there to access the site at Radlett Aerodrome.

It would seem to make more sense to have facilities to the north, south and west of London instead of two in the east - including one which needs a great deal of work raising bridges and tunnels, causing chaos to the many commuters who use the line - to make it economically viable.

Many residents in St Albans do not wish to lose a large part of the Green Belt and be joined to Radlett, Park Street and London Colney in the giant conurbation, reaching almost to London, planned by Helioslough.

Many others have written about road and rail congestion, pollution and noise. The so-call "Country Park" would urbanise REAL countryside and farmland.

The Ver-Colne footpath runs from Redbourn to Garston, through St Albans to New Barnes Mill (near Sopwell House). It continues along the Ver, through fields where cattle graze.

The footpath runs through a high bridge under the A414 to Hedges Farm, where the land is used as cattle and sheep pasture, to Burydell Lane at Park Mill. Here the Ver runs under the road into a park and on through disused gravel workings towards Garston.

This farmland, which is also part of the Watling Chase Forest area, should be left as the farmland it has always been - part of the Green Belt - not submerged as an urban park within a monster railfreight terminal.

ME BEERBOHM

Verulam Road

St Albans

SIR - There is an aspect of the railfreight depot proposals for the former Handley Page airfield site at Park Street which I have yet to see aired.

The site is on the west side of the rail tracks - adjacent to the fast lines. Freight trains entering and exiting the proposed depot will therefore inevitably cause much greater disruption and likely delays to First Capital Connect and East Midland fast passenger services than if the depot was, hypothetically, up against the slow lines used mainly by FCC stopping trains.

The added complexity of signalling and operation of points necessitated by freight train movements into and out of the depot also has obvious negative safety implications.

ALAN BUNTING

Ridgewood Drive

Harpenden


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