Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Committee backs high-speed rail bid

The Government's HS2 high-speed rail plan has been backed by the House of Commons Transport Committee

The Government's HS2 high-speed rail plan has been backed by the House of Commons Transport Committee following its inquiry into the £34 billion project.

But the committee's approval came with a number of provisos, including MPs urging supporters and opponents of the scheme to desist from name-calling and terms such as "Nimbys" and "Luddites".

The committee said there was a "good case" for HS2 which would feature 250mph, 1,100-passenger trains running from London to Birmingham and then on to north-east and north-west England and Scotland.

Bitterly opposed by some residents and councils, HS2 would run through picturesque Tory heartlands in its first phase from London to Birmingham, with the Government due to make a decision on the route before the end of this year.

The committee's report said: "We call on the Government to consider and to clarify these matters before it reaches its decision on HS2."

The MPs said: "Unlike policies for major roads and airports, this proposal has all-party support. It is not, however, universally supported by MPs or the public.

"We acknowledge the deeply held and often well-informed views on both sides of the debate."

The report went on: "What should have been a serious and factually based debate about how best to address the transport, economic and environmental challenges of HS2 has too often been reduced to name-calling and caricature.

"Luddites, Nimby and white elephants fought out a battle of 'jobs versus lawns'. We urge the Government to desist from disparaging opponents of HS2 as Nimbys and for both sides in the debate to show respect for each other and to focus on the facts."

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