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Concerns grow on high speed rail link
MONEY should have been pumped into improvements to the East Coast main line rather than creating the UK’s first high-speed rail network, a North Yorkshire council leader has said.
The £32.7 billion HS2 project is set to include a spur linking its London to Leeds route past Church Fenton, near Tadcaster, to the East Coast line.
Journey times between York and London are expected to be cut from two hours to as little as 83 minutes, while York-Birmingham journey times would be more than halved and thousands of jobs are set to be created. However, the city’s taxpayers may have to contribute towards HS2’s costs. Church Fenton residents have formed an action group to oppose the high-speed plans after learning homes may be compulsorily purchased to make way for the line.
North Yorkshire County Council leader Coun John Weighell has said in his statement to next week’s full council meeting that upgrades to the East Coast main line would have been a better deal for the region. His City of York Council counterpart, Coun James Alexander, said East Coast main line councils had teamed up to press the Government for East Coast investment.
In the statement, published on the county council’s website ahead of the meeting, Coun Weighell wrote: “In relation to North Yorkshire, the route and times for HS2 are better than I expected, with a direct route to York and a stop at Darlington.
“However, I am aware of concerns in the south of the county regarding the proposed route, and still believe a major investment in the East Coast main line would have been cheaper, completed at an earlier date and more beneficial to a greater part of North Yorkshire.”
Coun Alexander said rail investment was “not an either/or argument”, saying: “The East Coast Mainline requires £260 million of investment regardless of the HS2 proposals, which is why York has set up the East Coast Mainline Authorities group of 20 councils to work with the Government to ensure this investment.
“We have already had discussions with the Rail Minister regarding our work. North Yorkshire County Council is a member of this group, so Coun Weighell will be aware of progress being made.”