Tory MPs look to block HS2

Two Tory MPs are seeking to block laws that would pave the way for the controversial £50 million High Speed 2 railway, saying the line does not allow for construction to start from Leeds and Manchester.

HS2 artist impression

Former minister Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) and ex-whip Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) have tabled an amendment calling on the Government to bring forward a cheaper and more environmentally "sympathetic" route.

They warn the line as set out in the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill is "significantly more costly" than it need be to reduce damage to the environment.

They also want MPs to stop the Bill from receiving a second reading as they say it fails to connect to HS1 and the Channel Tunnel, lacks public transport to disperse passengers at Euston and does not offer direct connections to existing major mainline train stations.

The rail route also fails to connect to potential airport hubs in London and the South East, according to the amendment.

People whose homes are blighted by the route or are subject to compulsory purchase orders are provided with "inadequate" compensation by the Bill, the MPs say.

The duo add the line is "insensitively routed" through previously unspoiled countryside, which will cause unnecessary damage to wildlife habits, waterways and ancient woodlands, plus does not allow for construction work to begin from Manchester and Leeds.

Sir Edward and Mr Fabricant do recognise there is a need for more north-south services to ease congestion on the West Coast Mainline and improve links between London and major cities.

The Bill is scheduled to have its second reading in the Commons on April 28, the first day after the Easter recess.

The HS2 link between London, the Midlands and the North of England is expected to cost £42.6 billion, which includes contingencies, with £7.5 billion for the trains.