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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high