Heathrow HS2 link on hold

Plans to build a branch of the high speed rail link to Heathrow have been put on hold pending a review of future airport capacity.

New interchange at Old Oak Common

Old Oak Common today, near Acton Credit: ITN/Simon Harris

Speaking to MPs, Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle said this afternoon, "Surely, the answer is not to delay decisions on HS2 but to speed them up on aviation?"

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin responded said it was right to ensure the aviation policy was set before committing to relevant decisions on HS2.

He told MPs: "But from day one, HS2 will provide far faster journeys than now via a major new interchange at Old Oak Common, linking to the Great Western Mainline, Crossrail and the Heathrow Express."

Responding directly to Ms Eagle, Mr McLoughlin added: "But it is right to see what the Davies Commission (on aviation) says."

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£33 billion cost of HS2 just "a guess" says Wolmar

Transport commentator Christian Wolmar on the day's HS2 announcements:

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At this stage #hs2 estimate of £33bn can only be a guess as it was made before detailed work on routes. Off to BBC News Channel at 8 30

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Interesting that as is modern custom, no press conference on #hs2 routes, to avoid tough questions and search for detailed answers #chicken

Dropping of Heathrow spur 'temporary reprieve'?

Campaigners don't believe that the Heathrow spur would encourage more people to travel to the airport by train, therefore reducing the number of domestic flights.

“Will people who support HS2 in the mistaken belief that HS2 will reduce domestic flights now realise HS2 is not about that. Nor is it about the environment, reducing carbon or true connectivity. Maybe it’s about airport expansion after all. _

“As for the Heathrow Link and for our community, it is still not certain if this is a permanent reprieve or a temporary one till 2015." _

– Keri Brennan of Ruislip Against HS2

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London to Manchester in 1 hr 8 mins

The high speed rail network will link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. Credit: HS2

Passengers will be able to get from London to Manchester in one hour and eight minutes - almost half the current journey time - once the high speed rail link is completed.

Today the government unveiled the proposed route between Birmingham and Leeds - having already drawn up plans for the London to Birmingham section.

However, a proposed spur to Heathrow has been put on hold, pending the results of Sir Howard Davies' review of future airport capacity - which is not due to give a final report until the summer of 2015.

Instead passengers heading to the world's busiest airport will have to change onto the new London east-west Crossrail service for an 11-minute transfer to terminals.