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Government blocks report into HS2 rail project

The Government has blocked the release of a report into the controversial HS2 rail project.Campaigners who oppose building the high-speed line between Yorkshire and London are demanding the publication of a 'cost-benefit analysis' report which was drawn up two years ago.

Ministers have refused to publish it despite a ruling from the Information Commissioner that it should be.

Ministers block HS2 report

Ministers have blocked the release of a report into the controversial HS2 rail project by over-ruling a decision by the freedom of information watchdog that it should be disclosed to campaigners.

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Campaigners against construction of the high-speed line between London and the north of England are demanding the publication of a cost-benefit analysis of the £42 billion scheme drawn up in 2011 for the Major Projects Authority.

They were hopeful that the Information Commissioner's decision last year to back their freedom of information request would lead to the revelation of damning information about doubts over the scheme's value for money.

But Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said he was taking the "exceptional" step of vetoing the Information Commissioner's ruling that it should be released, arguing that there was a "strong public interest against disclosure".

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Wakefield Council says "no" to HS2

Wakefield’s councillors have today voted against the Government’s plans for the new HS2 high speed rail network. At the meeting of full Council councillors made it clear that Wakefield welcomes investment in the rail network in the North and called for a package of transport investment measures.

They put forward an investment package proposal aiming to give better value for money and to better address the economic problems facing both the Wakefield district and City Region.

Supreme Court rules in favour of HS2

Campaigners against HS2 were defeated once more in court today, as the country's most senior judges threw out an appeal against the project. The Supreme Court ruled the government wasn't trying to rush through the high speed rail link or breaching environmental laws.

But the protest doesn't end there. Today a group of campaigners from Yorkshire travelled to Downing Street to try and get the government to change the route of the rail line. Our Political Correspondent Paul Brand reports.

Reaction to Supreme Court ruling on HS2

The Government has vowed to "press ahead" with the HS2 national high-speed rail line which will link Yorkshire to the capital after winning a key legal victory in the Supreme Court today.

The highest court in the land unanimously dismissed accusations by objectors that the Government was "cutting corners" to push the estimated #50 billion project through Parliament, in breach of European environmental laws.

Baroness Kramer, Minister of State for Transport, has welcomed the decision but Emma Crane from HS2 Action Alliance says the protest group are now planning to take their case to Europe - which could cause more delays.

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Extension call for HS2 consultations

Call for extension to consultation deadline Credit: PA

The pressure group Stop Hs2 South Yorkshire is calling for an extension to the deadline to the route consultation scheduled for january 31st.

The group has written to local MPs demanding they push for an extension to the deadline, saying there hasn't been enough time for local residents to respond.

HS2 consultation extended

The consultation period for the environmental statement of the HS2 high-speed rail project - which is to connect London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds - has been extended by an extra 17 days following a ruling by a Commons committee.

Opponents of the £50 billion scheme wanted an extension after 877 pages of documents were initially left off a computer memory stick.

The House of Commons Standing Orders Committee said on Wednesday that the consultation period, due to end on January 24, should be extended until February 10.

Former Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan, whose Chesham and Amersham constituency lies on the route of the first London to Birmingham phase of HS2, said she was sure campaigners and environmental organisations would welcome the consultation extension.

Stop HS2 campaign manager, Joe Rukin, said this was the first time the Standing Orders Committee had had to be called in six years.

HS2 Chief: Not going ahead would be "disastrous"

Controlling HS2 costs and delivering the project quickly are vital for its success, according to the new chairman of the £50 billion high-speed rail scheme.

Not going ahead with HS2 would be "disastrous for the whole nation" said HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins today.

The new HS2 chief has said the project not going ahead would be "disastrous"

Acknowledging the opposition that exists for the project, Sir David said that major new schemes were always challenging as they produced change.

Sir David , who has been Network Rail chief executive, said it was vital that the UK had a railway fit for the 21st century.

A new high-speed line would deliver the extra capacity vitally needed on a network suffering from "ageing infrastructure", he said.

Work on the first phase of HS2 is due to start in 2017 with completion due in 2026. A second phase, taking the line to north west and north east England in a Y-shaped route, is expected to be finished by 2032/33.

It is expected that HS2 will create up to 2,000 apprentices during the lifetime of construction. Also, it is thought the college will open in 2017.

The cost of the entire project is currently £42.6 billion, with a further £7.5 billion for the high-speed trains.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls insisted last year that there would be "no blank cheque" from Labour for the project.

Plans for HS2 engineers training college

Plans for a new college to train the next generation of top engineers to work on the construction of the £50 billion HS2 high-speed rail project - which will link Leeds with London, Manchester and Birmingham - have been unveiled by the Government.

The proposed college will be the first incorporated Further Education College in over 20 years.

Announced by Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock, the new college will deliver the specialised training and qualifications needed for high-speed rail, which will benefit HS2 and other future infrastructure projects across the country.

It will offer the necessary technical training, including rail engineering, environmental skills and construction to make HS2 a success and ensure it can be built by skilled British workers.

It will be the first new incorporated Further Education College in over 20 years.

HS2 could create around 2,000 apprentices during the construction

It is expected that HS2 will create up to 2,000 apprentices during the lifetime of construction. Also, it is expected the college will open in 2017, the date for the first London to Birmingham phase of HS2 to begin.

The first phase is due for completion in 2026, with a second phase, taking the line on a Y-shaped route to north west and north east England, due to be finished in 2032/33.

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