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HS2 design changes to go to MPs

More than 120 suggested changes to the first phase of the High Speed 2 (HS2) project were due to be debated by MPs this week.

A motion laid before Parliament scheduled a debate on the alterations to the HS2 Hybrid Bill for Tuesday this week.

This represents one more step in the long process of getting the bill through Parliament to allow construction of the London to Birmingham leg of the £43bn project.

The motion also instructs the HS2 Select Committee to consider the group of changes, the government wants to make following discussions with stakeholders.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill said: “This motion is a major step forward both in terms of getting HS2 through Parliament and getting this vital railway built.

“The changes to the bill show the government is listening to communities along the HS2 route. By working together, we can ensure this vital railway is designed in the right way, so we have spades in the ground in 2017 as planned.”

Proposed changes to the HS2 route near Lichfield would avoid the need for controversial crossings of the River Trent and the Mersey Canal.

Under the revised plans due to be debated, the railway would pass under the A38, the West Coast Main Line and the South Staffordshire line rather than running over them on viaducts.

The two crossings previously required were of concern to the Canal and Rivers Trust, which spoke broadly about its fears over HS2 to NCE recently.

Other proposed changes include:

  • Altering proposals to relocate the existing Heathrow Express depot at Old Oak Common to Langley near Slough, instead of to the North Pole East depot site currently proposed in the bill
  • The construction of sidings to the west of the Old Oak Common station, which could facilitate a future connection between Crossrail and the West Coast Main Line
  • Construction of a bypass for Chipping Warden in Northamptonshire, which would be of particular benefit to parents and pupils of the Chipping Warden Primary School on the A361 Byfield Road

Once examined by the select committee and debated by MPs, the amendments will go to detailed consultation.

The government aims to achieve Royal Assent for the hybrid bill by the end of 2016.

Bidding is expected to begin in earnest later this year for nine, £1bn design and build contracts on phase one of HS2. The likely contenders have been taking shape.

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