Rolling stock depot and viaduct concerns

With reference the the proposed rolling stock depot (RSD) and associated access viaduct at Stourton (opposite Arla dairy and through to Junction 45 park and ride), the following concerns should be considered when preparing responses to HS2 Ltd consultations.

According to Bill Birch, a mining engineer with decades of experience who has lectured at the University of Leeds for 13 years:

“It is difficult to envisage a more problematic location for the proposed viaduct to access the proposed Temple Newsam rolling stock depot. Given that this evidence is so easily obtained by a simple desk study followed up by a site visit, it is hard to imagine that anyone with any engineering experience has actually already carried out such an exercise.”

Problems and additional expenses include:

  • Flooding in the area of the proposed viaduct; the area for construction is in the highest flood zone possible (zone 3) and the area between the canal and the river is in zone 2. Works going on at the moment in Leeds will increase the river flow through this area.
  • Planned at the widest extent of the canal and river and on a curve, increasing costs.
  • Two pillars of the viaduct will be in the canal on a sharp bend, making it hazardous for canal traffic.
  • The geology of the area makes it difficult to build and even survey properly.
  • Re-routing of piping across the canal, the Trans Pennine trail, operating large cranes on the flood-prone thin strip of land between the river and canal and moving high voltage lines will make this route even more expensive.

Temple Newsam rolling stock depot: Expensive and high impact

The proposal to relocate the Rolling Stock Depot to Temple Newsam is bizarre, in that it seeks to replicate all the problems of the original proposed location of the HS2 depot adjacent to Crofton, and adds some unique problems of its own.

While the original proposals to locate the HS2 rolling stock depot also had issues related to opencast backfill and potential old workings, the previous site did not have the additional potential problems associated with:

  • The Skelton Grange power station ash lagoon
  • The culverts (covered drains) needed for the Wyke Beck/Knostrop sewage works
  • Settling of the land under the rolling stock depot
  • A very expensive 310 metre long viaduct to access the rolling stock depot
  • Potentially serious contaminated land problems

Temple Newsam rolling stock depot: Contaminated land

HS2 propose to build on a 4.5 million cubic metres of fly ash and bottom ash clinker from the former coal fired power station. This is so difficult that the M1 does a double bend around this area – in today’s prices, the M1 construction spent ca. £2.4 million to avoid this ash lagoon. Removing sediment from other similar areas has caused fatalities and near misses, where excavators have been engulfed.

The ash will probably include (and then liberate when excavated) arsenic, lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, selenium, aluminium, boron, barium and chlorine – these cause cancer, heart damage, lung disease, respiratory distress, kidney disease, gastrointestinal illness, birth defects and impaired bone growth in children. There is circumstantial evidence that the lagoon may contain even more dangerous contaminated waste.

The idea of drilling through this material to investigate it, then to excavate a minimum of 4 metres of this contaminated material whilst still having to drive piles through it to form a stable base for the depot, does not appear to be a sensible idea or a risk worth taking (for the HS2 contractors’ employees, or the people working in the surrounding factories).

  • The implementation of remediation measures to deal with the problem of continued settlement of the opencast backfill will be an additional expense.
  • The M1 has settled in places nearby and would be expected here too.
  • Old workings need to be investigated and voids filled, at a potential cost of at least £2.7m.
  • Soils heavily contaminated due to may years of sewage waste sludge injection by Yorkshire Water.
  • Soils will need to be treated or may need to be disposed of as contaminated waste: ca. £1.65m.
  • Cut and fill from the ash lagoon: ca. £10.9m

The proposed site is worse from an operational perspective as well:

  • Makes it harder for maintenance staff to service the line;
  • Makes it more difficult to get trains to/from York;
  • Construction and operation impacts more people;
  • Has more problems with old workings and land contamination;
  • Impacts nature reserves;
  • Brings fewer skilled jobs to residents;
  • Is likely to slow the trains down; and
  • Is more expensive, including new signals to be built at additional cost.