HS2 high speed rail route given go ahead by Government

A controversial new high-speed rail line (HS2) between London and Birmingham has been given the go-ahead by the Government.

The first phase of High Speed Two (HS2) could be up and running by 2026, with options to extend it later into northern England.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening announced that extra tunnelling would take place along the 90-mile (140km) first phase of the route in response to environmental concerns.

Opponents to HS2 dispute government claims that HS2 will deliver benefits worth up to £47bn, at costs of about £33bn.

The first phase of the project is planned to cut London-Birmingham journey times, on 225mph trains, to 49 minutes.

The second phase would branch into two routes reaching Manchester and Leeds by about 2033.

Connections to existing lines should then enable journey times between London, and Edinburgh and Glasgow, to be reduced to just three-and-a-half hours.

Ms Greening said the line was "the most significant transport infrastructure project since the building of the motorways".

The government estimates that the project could eventually result in a reduction of 9 million road journeys and 4.5 million plane journeys every year.

"HS2 is therefore an important part of transport’s low-carbon future," Ms Greening said.

Revisions to the route had halved the number of homes at risk, as well as reducing by a third the number expected to experience increased noise.

There will be new or extended tunnels at: Amersham (Buckinghamshire), Ruislip (north-west London), Greatworth (Northamptonshire), Turweston (Buckinghamshire), Chipping Warden and Aston le Walls (Northamptonshire), Wendover (Buckinghamshire) and Long Itchington Wood (Warwickshire).

Protest groups formed to oppose the scheme say the planned route crosses an area of outstanding natural beauty and it will damage the environment.

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