Fears of Tory rebellion over high-speed rail
Ministers announced a series of changes yesterday to plans for a £12bn high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham in an effort to avert a Conservative rebellion against the scheme.
The connection, to be built between 2016 and 2026, will cut the journey time between the two cities to less than 50 minutes. A second spur would eventually link Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds by the 2030s.
The proposed scheme has provoked fury among Tory MPs with constituencies along the proposed route. Critics include Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh Secretary, and David Lidington, the Europe minister, as well as John Bercow, the Commons Speaker.
Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, insisted there was no prospect of the plans being dropped. "It is my view that a high-speed rail network would deliver a transformational change to the way Britain works and competes in the 21st century," he said. "It will allow the economies of the Midlands and the North to benefit much more directly from the economic engine of London."
But he promised that every effort would be made to disguise the track from residents in London, the Home Counties and the South Midlands. He told MPs: "Where we cannot hide it, we will ensure it is architecturally designed and something that people are pleased to look at, not a British Rail eyesore."
Amendments to the route envisaged by the previous government included deeper tunnels and cuttings and moving it away from houses and historic sites. Consultation on the plans will begin in February.
Mr Hammond said: "I am confident solutions have now been found which can significantly mitigate the impacts of the railway at local level." But he acknowledged that some property values along the route would fall and announced his officials were preparing a compensation scheme.
Maria Eagle, the shadow Transport Secretary, said: "Your party's support for high-speed rail is a figleaf to disguise the fact that you've got no strategy whatsoever for investment, jobs or growth in the North."
The former Labour minister Frank Dobson warned against the demolition of 350 flats in his Holborn and St Pancras constituency. He said: "You really ought to go back to the drawing board."
Steve Richards: Dangers of shock and awe politics
Viewspaper, page 3
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser
Review: Alexandre Aja's film is a Twin Peaks-style mystery
Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study
Former boxer recalls incident when he was seven years old
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
- 5 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
Halloween 2014: From the Screaming Man of Pluckley to the 'White Lady' of the Tower of London - Britain's 20 most haunted places
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful events and hospital...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Are you looking for a...