HS2: Mixbury villagers give views on high-speed rail line
- 10 January 2012
- From the section Oxford
The government has approved a new high-speed rail line that will cut through north Oxfordshire and people living along the route are assessing how it may affect their daily lives.
Mixbury is a small village with about 80 houses and most residents have an opinion on the controversial HS2 scheme.
The £17bn project will cut travel times between London and Birmingham to under 50 minutes but for some in Mixbury the positives are not so evident.
Villager Claire Targonski said: "It won't deliver anything locally in terms of new stations or business, so it's not going to improve the economy for this particular area."
Many of Mixbury's residents commute by car or use Bicester North train station which is 10 miles from the village. A bus service through the village was recently scrapped because not many people were using it.
And so a rail line with a nearby stop and trains travelling at a slower speed may have found more support.
Instead many say the negative effects of HS2 on an area of natural beauty are too great.
'Get basics right'
Mrs Targonski added: "We choose to live in the countryside because it's quiet and peaceful and to have the HS2 cutting through seems a peculiar thing to do.
"Money could be better spent on hospitals or schools. General road maintenance would be quite good - you can't drive around here without hitting potholes.
"Can we concentrate on getting the basics right before we spend vast amounts of money on something that nobody seems to want?"
Pat Beveridge, who has lived in Mixbury for 30 years, had a similar idea.
"I do think the money should be spent on improving the existing railway service" she said.
"I can't remember the last time I went to London in the morning and didn't have to stand, which is absolutely ridiculous given the cost of travelling."
'No great impact'
Mixbury does sit in beautiful countryside and appears quiet to the casual visitor.
Dog walkers and horse riders can be seen on the roads and bridleways around the village and the surrounding fields are popular with the Bicester Hunt.
But while Ms Beveridge had her concerns about HS2, noise was not one of them.
She said: "We have tremendous noise from the A road already. The prevailing wind blows from that direction so it blows the noise towards us.
"You hear Silverstone racetrack in the summer.
"Whilst the prevailing westerly wind is blowing I don't think there will be a huge problem of noise from the train."
Neighbour Nadine Lee concurred: "I don't worry about the noise. It's going to be so fast and we have tractors going up and down all the time anyway so it's not going to be any different.
"There won't be that great an impact. It's going across the fields so it's nowhere near our houses."
Ms Lee is disabled and intends to use the HS2 line when it is built.
"I think it's a good idea," she added. "It will be very practical for people who live around here that work in London and I also think it will bring people and business to the area."
But for others the entire identity of the village is under threat.
"I walk my dog everyday around Mixbury," Nicola Adams said.
"We love it here and what we like about the countryside is the quiet and the wildlife.
"Those are the reasons we've lived here so long and that will change dramatically if a train goes straight through the middle.
"The noise level, pollution, wildlife - everything will be affected by it."
Fellow villager Susan McCarthy-Wiper said: "We'll see it everyday when we take our kids to school.
"And you just worry about the devaluation of the housing. It might mean that we move."
However, for renter Emily Westwood lower house prices would be a positive.
"We would like to buy and we'd want to get our house for a lower cost than we would potentially pay without HS2 going ahead," she said.
"But I have a horse and the bridleways I currently use will be affected so that is not great news for me."
With the 100-mile connection being built between 2016 and 2026 many of Mixbury's challenges lie some way along the line.
"It's not us that's going to suffer," said Richard Beaumont, another local. "It's our children".
It will be 14 years before the 225mph trains take their first passengers. By then Claire Targonski's baby son will be ready to take a trip.
"I wouldn't hedge your bets... unless he moves to Birmingham or London he isn't going to be able to use it," she said.