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HS2 consultation closes today

Today is the final day for those wishing to express their views about the government’s plans for High Speed 2 to make a submission to the consultation.

Since being launched in February, the government has being working hard to sell the plan, with 31 public roadshows held over 41 days in which 30,000 people attended.

The transport secretary, Philip Hammond is due to consider the submissions and have a decision on whether to proceed with the scheme by the end of the year.

Hammond said he still hoped the plan would be economically beneficial to the country and create jobs, drive regeneneration and increase rail capacity.

“However I also understand the concerns of those who will be directly affected by the proposals, which is why we have done everything possible to allow people to find out about the scheme and to have their say,” he said.

Only last week, the plan was criticised by an economic think tank as being the “latest in a long series of government big-project disasters.”

Hammond was also recently accused of manipulating the High Speed Two (HS2) public consultation after he contacted rail employees, asking them to support the project and respond to the consultation.

If the decision is taken to build a line from London to the West Midlands, the next stage would be for the government to introduce a hybrid bill (which could take until autumn 2013) which would set out the land requirements for the first phase of the project and provide the necessary legal powers to build and operate the new railway.

Before this bill could be introduced to Parliament, work would be required to complete the next stage of engineering design, including more detailed design of the route, its structures and mitigation measures.

Parliamentary process could then be expected to take about one and a half years with a view to gaining Royal Assent in early 2015.

Following a period of preparation, construction would then take approximately eight years, with testing of the line beginning in 2024 and the London to West Midlands line opening in early 2026.

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