Westminster hands boost to High Speed Two campaigners
Plans to build a high speed rail link under parts of North Westminster are to be opposed by the council – giving a boost to thousands of campaigners.
A Westminster Council report into the proposed High Speed Two rail link from London to Birmingham states Westminster “welcomes the principle of a high speed rail network”.
But the council opposes some local elements of the rail link and suggests the route should be realigned to avoid Westminster.
With the council’s final report expected imminently, the draft argues the route in Westminster “does not appear to have been justified” and “is therefore objectionable”.
It also says “if the city council’s concerns are not met, then it may be necessary to petition parliament and lobby for further changes”.
Westminster deputy leader Cllr Robert Davis said: “We have suggested that the proposed route through Westminster should be realigned to the north, to pass under the West Coast Main Line, something that would have only a minimal impact on the projected journey times.
“There is also concern about the impact of construction on local utilities and increased pollution in the Queen’s Park area as the work is carried out.
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“With more people coming into Euston, the increased stress on existing underground services, bus and taxi routes also needs to be managed.”
The High Speed Two route would see journey times between Euston and Birmingham cut to 49 minutes with tunnels running under Queen’s Park at a depth of 30-35m.
Transport secretary Phillip Hammond is set to decide on the scheme later this year with the line opening in 2026 if it gets the go-ahead.
The Stop The Tunnel North Westminster action group has strongly contested the plans and delivered a petition with 1,400 signatures to the council.
The group is concerned about the risk of damage to properties, noise and vibrations, damage to underground services and the risk of financial loss.
Member Julius Hogben said they are “very pleased” with the Westminster report.
He said: “The big thing is they have asked so many questions in a fairly combative manner that they have actually cast doubt over the viability of the project in Westminster.
“Westminster is one of the big Tory councils in central London so I would have thought it will make a big difference to the government’s decision.
“It’s extremely encouraging.”