HS2 rail link consultation: Rethink urged by assembly

The government has been urged to rethink plans for a £32bn high-speed "HS2" rail route because of concerns about the scheme's impact on London.

A London Assembly committee has called for changes to the route between London and Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

It also suggested a new Tube line so existing routes were not "swamped".

A public consultation on the project - which is opposed by councils including Buckinghamshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire - ended on Friday evening.

The committee urged the government to consider building tunnels for part of the proposed route in west London to spare local residents disruption.

It highlighted the need for a "Crossrail 2", from Chelsea to Hackney, to prevent thousands of extra HS2 passengers crowding on to existing Tube services from the terminus at Euston.

Caroline Pidgeon, the Lib Dem who chairs the committee, said: "High-speed rail has enormous potential but the current proposals for HS2 fail to properly address the effects it would have on local communities and London's existing transport network."

'Chronic shortage'

The link from London to Birmingham is projected to be completed by 2026, with the extension to Manchester ready by 2033.

Image caption The public consultation into plans for a high-speed rail line ends at midnight on Friday

The plans have sharply divided opinion between supporters and those who believe the scheme would be a waste of money.

The government argues that HS2 would slash journey times and improve connections in a way unmatched since the building of motorways in the 1960s and 1970s.

And Professor David Begg, from the Yes to High-speed Rail Campaign, said it was "the best way to tackle the chronic shortage in railway capacity that we're going to experience in the UK over the next 10 years".

A recently retired town planner is walking the entire route of the proposed link and writing a blog on his views, and on the conversations he is having with local people.

Tim Stansfeld from Surrey said he did not start out as an objector, but is not so sure now.

"I don't think anybody could walk the whole route of HS2 as I'm doing and not feel affected by the impact on so much tranquil countryside, and in some case the loss of the homes and businesses of those who live there."

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