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HS2 'will benefit all and won't be rushed', says transport minister

Staffordshire | News | Published:

The HS2 rail project will benefit people in Staffordshire and is not being rushed, according to the transport minister.

Patrick McLoughlin officially opened the headquarters of HS2 Ltd in Birmingham yesterday, from where the firm will mastermind the construction of the controversial line.

The offices near Snow Hill station were welcomed as a jobs boost for the city, with up to 1,000 employees expected to move in from engineers to procurement specialists.

But Mr McLoughlin told the Express & Star people living in Staffordshire - through which the line will run - will also reap the rewards of the £55.7 billion scheme.

And he insisted the section of the line from Birmingham to Crewe would not be rushed, despite announcing in November it would open six years ahead of schedule in 2027.

"This is good news for the people of Staffordshire," said Mr McLoughlin, who was born in Stafford and was a miner at the Littleton Colliery in Cannock.

"What we are talking about is the capacity of the rail network. The West Coast line is basically operating at full capacity - there is no more room.

"This is the government saying what is important for the West Midlands and the North in the next 10 years.

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"If we don't start building now, it will not be there in 10 or 15 years time when there would be even greater capacity concerns."

On the decision to bring forward construction of the line to Crewe, he added: "With all infrastructure projects, we can safely say they are never rushed.

"This will not be rushed. The section of the line up to Crewe will go through the same procedure as that from London to Birmingham.

"The committee stage, the environmental work - it is all going to happen, it will all take place."

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The opening coincided with the final week of petitions on the HS2 Phase One Hybrid Bill being heard by the Commons' select committee.

The bill will provide the necessary planning permission for the route between London and Birmingham.

Mr McLoughlin, added: "We have listened to residents and communities and I am pleased that in many cases we have been able to make the changes they have been calling for."

The first phase of the line is expected to be completed by around 2026 and will reduce London to Birmingham rail times by 32 minutes.

The minister said he hoped to have 'diggers in the ground' within 18 months.

Connections to Crewe will open in 2027, before the lines to Leeds and Manchester are finished in 2033.

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