High-speed rail critics 'nimbys', says Cheshire MP

Concept image of high-speed train The new line - and high-speed trains - would cut the London to Birmingham journey time to 49 minutes

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A Cheshire MP has hit out at what he calls an "alliance of luddites and nimbys" who oppose plans for a new high-speed rail route.

The government wants to build a new line between London and Birmingham, with proposals to extend later to Manchester and Leeds.

Conservative MP for Weaver Vale, Graham Evans, was speaking in a debate on the issue at Westminster on Thursday.

He said a minority of opponents should not stop much-needed investment.

Critics of the £32bn scheme argue it is a waste of money, which would be better spent on updating the West Coast mainline.

'Tiny slither'

A public consultation on phase one of plans for the high-speed line (HS2) is currently under way.

The next phase of the plan, which is being backed by the government, involves extending the line in a "Y" shape to Manchester and Leeds, cutting journey times between the two cities and the capital to about 80 minutes.

Mr Evans told the debate: "I think it is very worrying when a very small group of people from a tiny slither of one of the wealthiest areas of the country, are seeking to thwart a major infrastructure project that would be of huge benefit to the whole country and was a manifestoed promise to all three main parties who received a combined share of 88% of the vote."

Groups opposing the new routes include HS2 Action Alliance, an organisation working with more than 70 local groups to challenge the case for HS2, and The TaxPayers' Alliance.

A recent study from The TaxPayers' Alliance said passengers will face slower and less-frequent services if the scheme goes ahead.

Creating the London to Birmingham HS2 will mean Euston station in London "becoming a building site for seven years", it said.

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