High-speed rail link backed by Birmingham Council

The controversial £34 billion high-speed rail line which will link London to the Midlands has been supported by Birmingham City Council despite councils and politicians across the region opposing the plans.

The controversial £34 billion high-speed rail line which will link London to the Midlands has been supported by Birmingham City Council despite councils and politicians across the region opposing the plans.

The council says the High Speed 2 line should be welcomed after members almost unanimously supported the plans.

Staffordshire County Council, and authorities in Coventry and Warwickshire, have opposed the line saying the proposals do not stack up.

They believe their areas will see none of the benefits or increased numbers of jobs generated by the line, with Birmingham the only real winner. Council leader Mike Whitby said if too many Midland authorities reject the plans, there is a risk the region could be miss out.

He said: "This is a golden opportunity which cannot be missed."

Councillor Whitby has said the scheme will bring jobs and £1.2bn of business to Birmingham including the possibility of engineers being located in the city.

The line, which currently promises a 49-minute, 250mph journey from Birmingham to London, has recently been altered near Lichfield.

But Labour transport spokesman Kath Hartley, who represents Ladywood, says any more changes will make things worse. She said: "We do not want to see a cave-in to local pressure groups adding twists and turns, otherwise HS2 might end up looking more like the Severn Valley Railway."

The high-speed rail plan will see two stations built in Birmingham, the River Tame diverted and viaducts and reinforcing walls built across swathes of the region.

The line also passes near to Lichfield. North of Lichfield, the line will require a 1,607ft retaining wall to be built close to Vicar's Coppice followed by a 672ft viaduct near Fulbrook Farm along with a 311ft retaining wall.

County council regeneration chief Councillor Robert Marshall said that with no stops in Staffordshire the line "would not benefit anyone in Staffordshire or Wolverhampton as it currently stands".