The Bill laying the legal framwork for the first phase of HS2 construction is going through the Parliament

Government to press ahead with HS2 Bill

A Bill that would give the UK government legal powers to build and operate the first phase of the high-speed rail link connecting London and Birmingham is being processed by Parliament.

Although the £50bn project has faced controversy due to its foreseen impact on local communities and the countryside, the Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent around the end of 2016 to allow construction to start a year later. The information was revelaed today in the Queen's Speech.

Former Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan, the Tory MP for Chesham and Amersham, is firmly against HS2, as is Foreign Office Minister David Lidington who represents Aylesbury.

A recent report from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Select Committee said the Government had not made a convincing case for HS2.

Labour had spoken of looking closely at the cost of the scheme if they won the general election. However, a clear Conservative majority has left the HS2 legislation with a seemingly clear path.

A second HS2 phase, taking the line north of Birmingham in a Y-shaped route to Manchester and Leeds, is also planned, with a finishing date of around 2032/33. Separate legislation is needed for this section, and, as yet, the exact route has not been determined.

The Government is also introducing a Buses Bill, which will allow areas such as Manchester to be responsible for running their local bus services.

Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph said: "London-style devolved transport powers could bring the same kinds of service improvements from which that city has benefited to long-neglected cities in the north of England and elsewhere."


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