The Government has confirmed construction will start on the High Speed 2 railway connecting London with Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester in 2017.
Transport Minister Robert Goodwill confirmed the start date as changes were unveiled in Parliament to the HS2 hybrid Bill which will be considered by a Select Committee.
Parliament will also debate updated plans for building the route.
“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.”
Among the amendments to be put to the Select Committee are:
– changes to the HS2 route near Lichfield, which mean the railway will now pass under the A38, the West Coast Main Line and the South Staffordshire line rather than run over them on viaducts – this will avoid the need for two crossings over the Trent and Mersey Canal, which had previously been of concern to local stakeholders, including the Canal and Rivers Trust#
– altering the proposals for the relocation of the existing Heathrow Express depot at Old Oak Common to Langley near Slough, instead of 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, if needed
Also included in the amendments is the construction of a bypass for Chipping Warden in Northamptonshire, which will be of particular benefit to parents and pupils of the Chipping Warden Primary School on the A361 Byfield Road.
The motion will be debated in Parliament. The amendments will then be deposited and anyone affected by the changes will be able to petition against them.
A consultation period will also start so that members of the public can have their say. The Select Committee will meanwhile continue to hear petitions from people along other parts of the Phase One route.
The hybrid Bill remains on track to achieve Royal Assent by the end of 2016.