Cameron faces HS2 anger from backbenchers

DAVID Cameron yesterday raised the ire of his own party following the publication of the second half of the HS2 railway route from London to northern England.

Most of the Y-shaped railway – which will link London to Leeds and Manchester – will run through Conservative-held constituencies, raising the prospect of a backbench rebellion when parliament votes on the plans before the 2015 election.

“Although I accept the need for an additional line to relieve capacity on the rail network, this route plunges through rural Britain and should use existing transport corridors,” Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant told the House of Commons. “It blights the environment, homes and lives.”

Opposition to HS2 has grown within the party since last year’s confirmation that the first half of route would run through the Chiltern Hills.

Yesterday Chesham & Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan said the project left thousands of people suffering “blight and uncertainty” and called for the government to build the northern phase first in order to boost the region’s economy.

Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen insisted the route would mainly benefit the southeast and warned of the effect it will have on local businesses: “The route puts in jeopardy a potential £450m private sector investment in my constituency.”

But chancellor George Osborne – whose Tatton constituency is affected by the route – said the project must go ahead as “Britain has not undertaken these big projects” for too long, leaving it with a creaking rail network.

Route maps published yesterday reveal new platforms will be built next to the existing Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly stations, with HS2 entering Manchester via a lengthy tunnel. There will be intermediate stops at Manchester airport, Sheffield, and the Nottingham suburb of Toton.

The railway will also be connected to the existing East and West Coast main lines, enabling services to run along HS2 from London before heading on to other northern cities and Scotland.