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HS2 to clear final parliamentary hurdle as Bill set for royal assent

Legislation for the first phase of the HS2 high-speed rail project is expected to pass its final hurdle on Thursday.

The parliamentary Bill to build the line from London to Birmingham is due to receive royal assent, opening the way for construction work to begin.

It has had more than three years of scrutiny including a failed eleventh-hour bid to defeat it in the House of Lords last month.

Phase one of t he £55.7 billion scheme i s scheduled to open in December 2026, with a second Y-shaped phase launching in two stages.

Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe will open in 2027 and phase 2b, from Crewe to Manchester and from the West Midlands to Leeds, South Yorkshire and the East Midlands, will begin operation in 2033.

Construction work on phase one is set to begin in the spring. When the section is completed it is expected to nearly triple the number of rush-hour seats on the route from 11,000 to about 30,000.

Most intercity trains will run on the HS2 network, allowing more commuter services on the West Coast line.

West Midlands Combined Authority chairman Bob Sleigh said the granting of royal assent was "the news that the West Midlands has been waiting for".

He declared that the region was " ready to capitalise fully on the opportunities it offers to transform places, create jobs and attract investment".

Camden Council leader Sarah Hayward said the local authority, residents and businesses challenged the HS2 Bill "every step of the way".

The area will be home to the network's London terminus at Euston station.

Ms Hayward said the council was "proud to have successfully secured significant concessions" including replacement homes for council tenants, noise insulation, limits on construction vehicle emissions and a £3.5 million Camden community fund.

Joe Rukin, campaign manager at Stop HS2, claimed the parliamentary Bill receiving royal assent would be "a triumph of spin over evidence-based policy".

He said: "T his is a terrible project which will not deliver on its promises, come in years late, miles over budget, create havoc during construction and has disastrous environmental consequences.

"The fight against phase two of HS2 will continue."

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