Virgin Pendolino train on track bend - front view

HS2 plan still on track

The UK Government was asked today to confirm its High Speed 2 rail plans were still on track.

Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith) asked Transport Secretary Justine Greening to affirm whether the controversial £32 billion scheme still has the backing of David Cameron and George Osborne.

Greening announced to MPs in January that she was giving the green light to the ambitious project, which would be built in two phases - the London to Birmingham line and then extensions to Manchester and Leeds to form a Y-shaped network.

Greening maintained the plans were "absolutely vital" to the country's long-term success.

Speaking during Commons transport questions, Lazarowicz said: "Will the Secretary of State agree that one of the best ways of ending the uncertainty is to reach a quick decision?

"Would the Secretary of State confirm the Government will be bringing forward legislation for HS2 in the current Parliament and that she continues to have the full support of the Chancellor and Prime Minister in bringing forward HS2 ... not just for England but for Scotland as well."

Greening replied: "The short answer to his question is yes. We are planning to introduce a hybrid Bill. I think it's absolutely vital for the long-term success of this country."

Conservative Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire) said she had experienced constituents "in tears" in her advice surgeries as they were "blighted" by the HS2 project and "trapped in their homes", unable to sell them.

Leadsom sought assurance that no private home owner would have to pay with the value of their home for the project and sought an update on the consultation to put a "decent, fair" compensation scheme in place.

Greening acknowledged that the HS2 line was "already causing uncertainty" for many communities and businesses that would be affected along the line of the route.

She said: "We have introduced the Exceptional Hardship Scheme, as she knows I'm about to have a meeting later today to talk to some of the key stakeholders, including herself about their concerns."

The Government, she added, was drawing up long-term proposals for compensation and would be consulting on those very shortly.

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