High-speed rail route to be set out

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The Independent Online

Thousands of households will learn that their properties will be affected by a multi-billion pound high-speed rail line today when the Government finally lays out its detailed plan for the project. The route for the 200mph service is also likely to anger green groups, as the line between Birmingham and London is set to run through the picturesque Chiltern Hills, in Buckinghamshire. However, HS2, the company that drew up the route, is said to have devoted a lot of time to minimising its environmental impact.

Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, has promised today's announcement will narrow down the route of the new line to within five metres in urban areas and 25 metres in the countryside. Work on the line is set to begin in 2017. The Department for Transport (DfT) is bracing itself for legal action as major local campaigns spring up to resist the scheme.

It is also thought Lord Adonis will announce that the high-speed trains will not terminate at a new station at Heathrow airport. Instead, passengers wanting to reach the airport will have to use a new interchange station at Old Oak Common. The Conservatives will strongly criticise any decision not to build a direct link to Heathrow. Theresa Villiers, the shadow Transport Secretary, said that refusing to build a hub station at the airport would be a "missed opportunity".