Government will defy “grief and hassle” to push ahead with HS2


The Transport Secretary has said he will defy “grief and hassle” from Tory backbenchers to fast-track plans for the new high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham.

In an interview with The Independent, Patrick McLoughlin claimed the errors which have blighted the award of the West Coast Main Line franchise would not be an issue with HS2.

The proposed route would include South Northamptonshire, passing near Brackley and a number of villages.

In the interview, Mr McLoughlin said there would be no significant compromises on the route, despite opposition from Conservative MPs in affected constituencies.

He said: “The easiest thing for any government to do on a project the size of HS2 is to say we’re not doing it. All we get is grief. All we get is hassle. But one of the things that government has got to try and do is to look to the long-term future.

“Whichever route we’re going to put it on we’re going to upset people.”

The announcement has been met with incredulity from campaigners opposed to the plans.

Joe Rukin, campaign coordinator for Stop HS2, said: “It is hard to know where to start with this one. Mr McLoughlin is trying the same old trick, trying to pass us off as a bunch of NIMBYs and saying we are missing the point, but it is he who is missing the point.

“His Government keeps getting grief and hassle because they are pig-headed about a project which is massively expensive, environmentally disastrous, not what the country needs and will not deliver on its promises.

“The New Economics Foundation, The Institute of Economic Affairs, The Adam Smith Institute and The Taxpayers Alliance all oppose HS2, and even the Institute of Engineering and Technology have said the plans are fundamentally flawed, but he wants to stick his fingers in his ears and pretend the opposition is all about the route.”