Dame Andrea Leadsom MP Calls for New Silverstone International Station
|Author: Jack Edwards - Conservative
|Published: 10th October 2023 10:03
Dame Andrea Leadsom MP has written to the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Transport and West Northamptonshire Council, asking them to consider a constructing new "Silverstone International" train station at the HS2 construction compound off the A43 north of Brackley, using funds made available following the cancellation of the second phase of HS2.
The MP for South Northamptonshire has long been against HS2 on the grounds of value for taxpayers' money and the engineering complexities that come with a 250mph train line. HS2 has cut through ancient woodland, rivers and flood plains, sensitive historic sites, and has subjected residents to poor project management from the start.
Such has been the scale of the disruption to residents' lives due to the construction of HS2 in recent years that many are now calling for a dividend for South Northamptonshire. Dame Andrea proposes that this should be a new station on the HS2 line that would deliver a public transport link to the UK's largest sporting event, the British Grand Prix, and critical railway infrastructure for thousands of commuters that presently have to travel to Milton Keynes, Banbury or Northampton.
Dame Andrea has requested that officials be tasked with exploring the Business Case for a "Silverstone International", and that the local council write to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Transport showing their support for the proposal.
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Prime Minister,
I would like to congratulate you for what was, no doubt, a very difficult decision to cancel the second phase of HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester. As an MP whose constituency lies on the route of the first phase, I have taken a very close interest in HS2 since the project was first discussed in 2009 and I have always had grave concerns about the value for taxpayers’ money and the engineering costs of a 250mph train across our varied landscape. Once it became clear that the case was stronger for capacity rather than speed, it was ever more apparent that the route of the line would be incredibly costly relative to a normal, intercity train, as the intended 250mph speed necessitated a straight track. This meant the line has had to cut through ancient woodland, rivers and flood plains, sensitive historic sites, and many of my constituents’ homes, incurring huge costs for the taxpayer.
Over the last thirteen years, I have sought to robustly protect the interests of my constituents and have been gravely disappointed to see the mismanagement of HS2 Ltd., with huge staff turnover, an unwillingness to take residents’ views into account in project design and execution and the difficulty so many have had with achieving proper compensation and mitigation. Thank you for recognising in your speech this poor project management to which many communities have been subjected.
Such has been the scale of unnecessary disruption to residents in South Northamptonshire, that many are calling for a dividend for our area by way of compensation. Specifically, residents are calling for a new “Silverstone International” railway station to be built on the site of the enormous HS2 construction compound just off the A43, north of Brackley.
Not only would this create the only public transport link to the British Grand Prix, which is the UK’s largest international sporting event, but it would also transform the lives of thousands of residents that commute to work every day, presently without the benefit of any train infrastructure closer than Milton Keynes, Banbury and Northampton. There is huge support for this idea in my constituency and you may have seen significant press coverage of it in recent days.
I attach a letter I wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport on 21st July, immediately after this year’s British Grand Prix, where over half a million visitors attended over four days. The letter was sent at the request of Silverstone Circuit, who are offering to build a “Silverstone Halt” that would just operate solely during the four days of racing. I think we should be much more ambitious – we should use some of the infrastructure funding that has become available for the Midlands and the North, together with a contribution from Silverstone Circuit, to build a major new train station on the route. I truly believe this would be a major win for UK PLC and will build further support for your decision to cancel the second phase of HS2 that I have no doubt will benefit the country in the long-term.
I spoke with the Secretary of State for Transport the day after your announcement at Conference, and he has agreed to have DfT officials consider the Business Case as a matter of urgency. I would be grateful if you will support a positive decision that would enormously benefit this fast-growing part of the Midlands.