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Church of England joins HS2 battle

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The Church of England has joined opponents of the Government's HS2 proposals, warning that current plans for constructing the line mean human remains will not be treated "in a decent and reverent manner".

The Archbishops' Council, which is led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York, says there must be changes to give greater protection to remains which have to be exhumed along the route.

In a petition to the House of Commons, the Council says that works authorised by the Bill will involve the destruction of three burial grounds consecrated for the burial of the dead in accordance with the rites of the Church of England and the removal of human remains and monuments from them.

They have complained that the link will cut through their estates,cause noise and damage areas of outstanding natural beauty. The link will speed up travel time between the north and south.

Manchester firms encouraged to make the most of HS2

The company behind the High Speed rail link is urging companies in Manchester to prepare for future business opportunities. HS2 limited are in the city today to speak to local firms and help them make the most out of the multi-billion pound project.

HS2 will bring huge benefits to Manchester in terms of creating jobs and redevelopment opportunities around the HS2 stations, making it an even more attractive place to work and do business.

It is vital that we understand and observe the market's current thoughts and opinions before developing our final procurement strategy for Phase One of the project, between London and the West Midlands.

We are keen to work with businesses from across the UK, and also those who are not traditionally involved in the rail sector, as they can bring best practice to ensure the delivery of HS2."

– HS2 Ltd Commercial Director, Beth West

The development of HS2 heralds a wealth of opportunities that will not only benefit the region's economy but will also see major improvements to the existing transport network.

The development of new stations at Piccadilly and Manchester Airport will increase overall capacity across all modes of transport and in so doing enable better connectivity across the network.

HS2's economic forecasts suggest that up to 180,000 new jobs would be created in the region by the early 2040s so it's essential that Greater Manchester's transport network is ready to cater for the increased demand."

– Transport for Greater Manchester's Chief Executive, Dr Jon Lamonte


HS2 debate in Parliament

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The proposed high speed rail link between London and the North could come a step closer today. MPs are expected to discuss the first phase of the controversial HS2 project which would run between London and Birmingham.

Final day to have your say on HS2

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Today is the final day for the public to have their say on the HS2 rail link connecting Manchester to the south.

There has been strong opposition to the plans along parts of the route. Since the consultation opened on 17 July last year HS2 Ltd has held more than 37 public information events all along the line of the proposed route. Head of consultation Farahnaz Ashouri said:

"I very much encourage people to have their say on the proposed route of the new high speed line that will connect up Leeds and Manchester to Birmingham. It is vitally important that we get their local knowledge.

People can respond to the consultation here.

Once the consultation closes on 31 January, the independent report on the responses will be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin. He will then announce the government's decision on the Phase Two route towards the end of the year.


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Labour: HS2 will address 'cramped, miserable journeys'

Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh has said that Labour supports the HS2 plan as it will address the need for more rail capacity across the country.

Not everyone supports the plan as seen in an anti HS2 sign in Whittington, Staffordshire.

She said: "Labour supports HS2 because we must address the capacity problems that mean thousands of commuters face cramped, miserable journeys into Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and London.

"However, three years of Government delays and mismanagement has caused costs to balloon. Incompetent ministers have only just launched the consultation on phase 2 of the route, despite the fact that it was being worked on when Labour were in government."

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HS2 Bill outlines powers to turn network into reality

The HS2 Hybrid Bill that is to go before Parliament will give details on how the first phase of the high speed rail project should progress.

The High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill will provide government powers to allow the construction and operation of the railway.

It will outline powers to:

  • build and maintain the first phase of HS2 and its associated works, including secure planning permission for the works;
  • compulsorily acquire interests in the land required;
  • affect or change rights of way, including the stopping-up or diversion of highways and waterways (permanently or temporarily);
  • modify infrastructure belonging to statutory undertakers (e.g. utility companies);
  • carry out protective works to buildings and third-party infrastructure.

Lord Heseltine backs HS2

Lord Heseltine says HS2 will "draw together" Britain's economy. Credit: PA

Tory grandee Lord Heseltine - a former Minister for Merseyside - has declared his support for the £50 billion HS2 high-speed rail project.

The one time Deputy Prime Minister says the scheme's timetable should be accelerated and that the private sector should contribute to the cost.

He says: "HS2 is about our country's competitiveness for a half century or more.

"It is about so many more people sharing growth that has, for too long, been concentrated on London and the South East.

HS2 is set to cost £42.6 billion plus £7.5 billion for the trains Credit: HS2/PA Wire

The first phase of HS2 is due for completion in 2026, with the second phase, taking the line to north east and north west England, due to be completed by 2032/33

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