Lawyers for a group of local authorities, called 51m, told the High Court that the government has not properly consulted on the benefits and drawbacks of HS2.
Councils and homeowners have been left to “join the dots” about the second phase of the project, which is set to link Birmingham with Manchester and Leeds, as the Department for Transport has not released any detail about the route, Nathalie Lieven QC said.
But the government appears to have already committed itself to building the entire route, starting with the upgrade between London and Birmingham, Lieven added.
There has also been no environmental assessment of the second phase, which could run through the Peak District, she said.
“When one is removing people from homes, the standard of consultation should be at least as high as it would be to close a library, or to make a decision about a few businesses in a shopping centre... A rigorous approach needs to be taken,” she told Mr Justice Ouseley.
The judge will hear several applications for judicial review this week, including one today from the HS2 Action Alliance. Lawyers for transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin will set out their arguments on Friday, while a ruling is expected in the new year.
A victory for the campaigners could lead to years of delays on the HS2 project.