Westminster campaigners rally against High Speed Two

Harrow Road and Queen’s Park residents campaigning against a high speed rail link set to run directly underneath their homes took their fight to Westminster Council last week.

Campaigners from the Stop the Tunnel North Westminster action group presented to the council in the hope of getting them to side with residents over the proposed High Speed Two (HS2) link from London to Birmingham.

The proposed rail route would see journey time from Euston to Birmingham cut from one hour 24 minutes to just 49 minutes with train speeds of 225mph.

The route would see a tunnel run under much of the Queen’s Park ward and Harrow Road area at a depth of 30-35 metres.

Campaigners say no guarantees have been given concerning the risk of property damage, noise and vibration, or the financial loss caused by uncertainty surrounding the plans.

Speaking at the council’s policy and scrutiny meeting, Stop the Tunnel spokesman Daniel Tasker said approximately 2,500 properties will be affected in the area.

“We cannot overstate the widespread anxiety and uncertainty caused by the absence of detailed information,” he said. “Residents are shocked by the gigantic scale of the project, and deeply concerned and surprised that there will be no public inquiry.

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“We’re not at all reassured by the HS2 project’s statement, with no backing evidence, that there ‘should be’ no effects on utilities and ‘should be’ no discernible sound and vibrations during construction and once the service is running. Why won’t they give any guarantees?”

Campaigners argue properties could be hit by subsidence while noise and vibration from the trains will blight their lives and reduce the value of their properties. North Westminster residents are not eligible for compensation from HS2 who only award it to areas where the tracks go above the ground – not buildings located above tunnels.

The council’s committee postponed making a decision until later in the year but committee member Cllr Guthrie McKie said: “It has to be considered that there are alternative routes that could be considered.

“There’s genuine concern and this committee will seek further consultation and ask HS2 to look at other alternatives.”

The government’s public consultation on the HS2 proposals ends on July 29 and if it gets the go-ahead the route is scheduled to open in 2026.