THE GOVERNMENT’S preferred route for HS2 will ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ according to a local opposition group.
Plans for the £33 billion High Speed 2 railway line propose to cut journeys between Birmingham and London to between 30 and 50 minutes, on trains travelling at 250mph.
Following complaints from people affected along the line, Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, announced an amended route on Monday, December 20.
He said 50 per cent of the route announced in March had been changed.
But according to Heart of England High Speed Railway Action Group (HHAG), Monday’s statement makes little difference locally and there is still no business or environmental case for HS2.
Richard Lloyd, chairman of HHAG, said: “A number of changes have been made to the route south of our area. There do not appear to be any substantive changes to the 12 km of the line planned for Solihull borough, or the proposed ‘Interchange’ station at Middle Bickenhill in the Meriden Gap green belt. The Bickenhill station is costed at £400 million.”
He added: “Central to the HS2 business case is an expected growth in passenger numbers. If they’re right Bickenhill will be a magnet for traffic and housing development.”
Caroline Spelman, Conservative MP for Meriden, said high speed rail is a good investment for the future, will help rebalance the economies of the North and South and build capacity in the railway system.
Ian Hedley, leader of Solihull council, said: “The council has said it supports HS2 broadly. We need to see how an interchange will work out. It’s something we are looking at as a Local Enterprise Partnership with Birmingham and other local authorities.
I have no idea how it will be funded. It’s far too early to say that. We haven’t even had the consultation yet.”
A public consultation on the preferred route will start in February.