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Free Press takes rail link fight to Parliament

A weekly newspaper campaigning against plans for a new high speed rail route has taken its fight to the House of Commons.

The controversial High Speed 2 rail plan announced by former Secretary of State, Lord Adonis, earlier this year would cut through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Bucks Free Press found its readers were “absolutely horrified” by the idea and immediately launched a “No to High Speed” campaign.

Free Press reporter Andy Carswell last week presented a petition opposing the rail link to local MP Cheryl Gillan at the Houses of Parliament.

  • Free Press reporter Andy Carswell hands the petition to local MP Cheryl Gillan at the Houses of Parliament
  • Said Andy: “When the announcement was made, we went out and spoke with many readers who lived in the villages affected and they were absolutely horrified.

    “The route would go through your typical leafy and pretty Buckinghamshire villages and it is little wonder readers are concerned.

    “We decided to run this high profile campaign as, while the newspaper is not opposed to high speed rail links, we don’t see why it should go right in the heart of some beautiful villages enjoyed by scores of visitors.”

    The estimated £30bn project would see around 14 trains an hour in each direction travelling at speeds of up to 250mph.

    Last month, the Free Press reported that seven-year-old Nikhita Banerjee had written to then-PM Gordon Brown about the issue – and got a reply from Downing Street.

    On launching the campaign, the Free Press ran a special coupon every week in the newspaper encouraging readers to back the appeal.

    This was then displayed in a presentation book and handed to Mrs Gillan whose Chesham and Amersham constituency covers most of the affected areas.

    The Conservative MP, who is also Welsh Secretary in the coalition Cabinet, pledged to “stand with the readers of the Bucks Free Press.”


    Chris Youett (07/06/2010 15:33:28)
    Well done to the Bucks Free Press. I am surprised at the lack of factual analysis of a proposal that increasingly looks like an episode from Yes Minister! First, the biggest growth in rail travel over the next 30 years is between London & the Manchester-Liverpool area. Second, there is already plenty of spare capacity on the Paddington-Birmingham-Warrington line, the Marlybone-Leicester-Nottingham-Manchester line and the St Pancras-Leicester-Peak Forest-Manchester route. Third, the fares will be £300 2nd class and £500 1st Class. Fourth, the National Grid cannot deliver the 20,000 to 50,000 HP the trains will need to run at 250 mph.