Government starts high-speed rail consultation
- Published on Monday, 28 February 2011 09:01
- Posted by Scott Buckler
The government is to begin its consultation on the proposed high-speed rail line from London to BirminghamThe route would cut journey times by around half an hour, with work due to begin in 2015 if the plan is approved.Opponents argue that the £17bn scheme will be a waste of money and that updating the existing West Coast mainline would be a better investment.
But Transport Secretary Philip Hammond says the high-speed line (HS2) will mean a £44bn boost for the UK economy.
The project - introduced by Labour and continued by the coalition government - has proved highly controversial, with many living along the proposed route complaining that it will damage the environment.
Groups campaigning against the scheme will demonstrate their disapproval on Monday by lighting a chain of beacons at beauty spots through which HS2 is scheduled to pass. Opponents include not only residents' groups and local councils but some Tory MPs, while the rail industry and business are in favour of the line.
Government documents being released later will give more details about the project. Mr Hammond said: "HS2 will be a piece of national infrastructure which will bring benefits to Britain as a whole.
"Of course we will do everything we can to mitigate the impacts on areas like the Chilterns but projects like this have to be decided on the basis of the national interest and the overall net benefits it will bring to Britain."
Mr Hammond will outline the case for HS2 at a conference in Birmingham.
There are plans to extend the line to Manchester and Leeds.
Last week almost 70 business leaders, including CBI director-general John Cridland and former British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh, gave their backing for HS2.
But Lizzie Williams, chairman of the Stop HS2 group, called the project "a complete waste of taxpayers' money when we can least afford it".
Source: ©BBC News