One of the South's most popular heritage lines has announced the date - it'll connect to the UK rail network, for the first time in half a century. The Bluebell Railway's two-mile extension into East Grinstead in Sussex will open on March 23rd.
It follows decades of tireless work and fund-raising by volunteers, who had to clear a massive rubbish dump in order to lay new tracks. The Bluebell attracts more than 170,000 visitors a year and has one of the largest collections of steam locomotives in the country.
VIDEO: It's full speed ahead for the High Speed 2 rail link despite large scale opposition in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The Prime Minister today said the £32 billion scheme is needed to create 100,000 jobs and be a legacy for generations to come.
VIDEO: The government has announced an extension to the controversial HS2 rail route. The proposed route has angered people living in the Thames Valley as they are concerned about the impact on wildlife and property prices. This promotional video shows the new trains and the route,
The Campaign to Protect Rural England has raised concerns over an an extension to the HS2 rail link.
Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner, CPRE said: “20 years ago, most people would never have believed rail use could double by 2012. "We can certainly welcome the Government's level of ambition.
“CPRE will be holding the Government to account against our five tests for sustainable high speed rail.
"In particular, CPRE county branches that are directly affected by the chosen route will want to consider whether there are better alternative routes or approaches to growing the rail network.
"We hope communities directly affected by phase 2 of HS2 can have greater opportunities to influence the proposals than has been the case for phase 1 .”
The Government has delayed plans to link HS2 to Heathrow
The plan was for a direct link. Now it says the plan will form part of a review into the future of airports in the south.
However there will be an interchange on the Great Western line between Reading and Paddington near to Acton in London.
In a statement the Government said:
"HS2 will connect to Heathrow Airport from the first day that Phase One opens via a fast 11-minute Crossrail link at the new Old Oak Common station.
"Subject to the findings of the Airports Commission report on maintaining the UK’s international hub connectivity, HS2 could also be extended to serve Heathrow directly."
Prime Minister David Cameron says HS2 will create 100,000 jobs.
He added: “Linking communities and businesses across the country and shrinking the distances between our greatest cities, High Speed Rail is an engine for growth that will help to drive regional regeneration.
“We are in a global race and this Government’s decision to make High Speed Rail a reality is another example of the action we taking to equip Britain to compete and thrive in that race.
"High Speed Rail is a catalyst that will help to secure economic prosperity across Britain, rebalance our economy and support tens of thousands of jobs.”
The government has announced an extension to the controversial HS2 rail route.
The proposed route has angered people living in the Thames Valley as they are concerned about the impact on wildlife and property prices.
The extended route will now extend from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "We have to move with the times as a country. We can't keep relying on Victorian infrastructure for 21st Century Britain.
"We can't keep turning a blind eye to the north-south divide in our economy. That is what this high-speed project is all about.
"Of course there'll be people who don't like one or other aspect of it but if we really want to build for the future, so that our children and grandchildren have a future fit for the 21st Century, we've got to get moving."
The Prime Minister is today expected to put High Speed 2 at the heart of the Government’s growth agenda and confirm the line will be extended to Leeds and Manchester.
It could spark anger in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire where the outcome of a legal challenge into the project is still to be made.
It's claimed the Government failed to properly consult on the scheme.
In a speech Mr Cameron will say HS2 is going ahead and will be the most important project in the UK to create jobs and boost the economy. He is attending a Cabinet meeting in the north where he is expected to make the comments.
Those opposed led by Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire County Councils say the scheme will destroy large parts of The Chilterns.
It would link London and Birmingham and then go on to Leeds and Manchester. The cost is £32bn.
It would pass close to Wendover, Aylesbury, Bicester and north of Banbury.