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HS2: MPs vote overwhelmingly in favour of controversial £55bn rail link

Birmingham | News | Published:

MPs have tonight voted overwhelmingly to back the £55 billion HS2 project despite last-minute attempts to derail it.

After six years in the planning, MPs voted by 399 to 42 in favour of the project for the third time – effectively confirming the high-speed rail line will be built.

It will now go to the Lords to ratify before being rubber stamped later this year.

MPs were only voting on the first phase of the scheme between London and Lichfield – but the vote of confidence makes it increasingly inevitable that plans to extend it to Manchester and Leeds will go ahead.

Around 45 miles of Staffordshire countryside is set to be destroyed by the full project.

Staffordshire Conservative MPs Jeremy Lefroy, Sir Bill Cash, and Michael Fabricant voted against the Bill.

MPs tried to make a number of amendments to stop HS2 going through but these failed to be passed.

In the end, MPs were left with just 30 minutes to debate the proposal.

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant said: "I do accept there is a need for an additional north to south rail corridor and if it be high-speed than so be it.

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"But HS2 is not integrated. It is about as integrated as my old Hornby railway that went around and around on my carpet, did not link up with the roads or buses because it is a toy.

"HS2 is not a toy but it could have been built better."

Work on HS2 to Birmingham will start next year and open in 2026. The line through Staffordshire is set to be built by 2027.

Today it was also announced that Wolverhampton-based Carillion has been shortlisted for HS2 contracts worth up to £4.5bn.

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As part of a consortium with Kier and Eiffage. the firm is one of nine sets of bids.

They can now tender for building tunnels at Euston, Northolt, the Chilterns and Brackley to Long Itchington Wood.

And a damning report by MPs found there to be fundamental problems with the way that HS2 Ltd communicates with residents affected by their plans, and the way that they handle complaints.The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee chairman Bernard Jenkin MP said: "There is still a culture of defensive communication and misinformation within this public body and that is not acceptable. Unless those responsible for delivering HS2 understand that first and foremost they serve the public, they will continue to be criticised for having complete disregard for the people, some of them vulnerable, who are impacted by this large-scale infrastructure project."

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