Government bids to hit pedal 
on high-speed rail revolution

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlinTransport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin
LEGISLATION is being drawn up to fast-track the second phase of the Government’s flagship £32bn high-speed rail project, the Transport Secretary has announced.

Patrick McLoughlin said he intends to introduce a public Paving Bill for High Speed 2 (HS2), which would help to drive forward delivery of the new line linking London to Leeds and Sheffield.

Mr McLoughlin said the Bill would allow Parliament to make a clear commitment to the project, which he described as “an engine for growth”.

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“Crucially, it will also give us the spending powers much sooner that will enable us to get moving on the detailed design work for the scheme,” he said.

The “signal of intent” could act as a catalyst for regeneration around stations, he added.

Yorkshire politicians have broadly welcomed a faster rail connection to the capital as a major economic boost to the region.

But news of the Bill has fuelled the concerns of residents living in the path of the proposed route, in communities such as Church Fenton in North Yorkshire, where there would be a 42ft flyover.

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Jo Mason, a campaigner who lives in the village, said: “In some ways it means we are doing a good job of protesting because I think it means the Government is worried. They are obviously trying to force this through before the public realises what a waste of money and what a white elephant this is.”

The announcement made the consultation process, which is due to last until 2016, feel “totally undemocratic”, she added.

“Trying to hurry something of the magnitude is ridiculous. They are almost saying their consultation process is a sham,” she said.

Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke said he would like to see official consultation with affected residents in his constituency, where a 60ft viaduct is planned in Woodlesford, brought forward.

The Conservative MP, who supports HS2, will meet Mr McLoughlin on Wednesday to air their concerns and lobby for a “slight rerouting” of the line.

UK to blaze trail: Page 4.