Coventry City Council has become the latest West Midlands authority to come out against plans for a high speed rail line.
The authority vowed to oppose proposals for a line with trains running up to 250 mph, on the grounds that it would actually lead to worse services to the city.
Although trains would run from London to Birmingham, they would bypass Coventry, the council said.
And the Government’s proposals would mean fewer long-distance services ran on the conventional West Coast Main Line, which does stop at Coventry.
The authority adopted a motion stating that it “formally objects” to the high speed line at a full council meeting.
It follows the decision by councils such as Staffordshire County Council to oppose high speed rail, but Coventry’s opposition is based largely based on worry about the economic impact of the proposals, rather than the environmental issues that have caused concern in Staffordshire.
It appears to challenge David Cameron’s argument that high speed rail will benefit economies outside London and the South-east. The Prime Minister has said new rail lines will be the key to closing the north-south wealth divide.
Coventry councillors claimed it would undermine the ongoing regeneration of Coventry city centre.
A report published earlier this year by HS2 Ltd, the body set up to deliver the high speed rail line, suggested that three services per hour would run from Birmingham to London, rising to four at peak hours.
But this would reduce demand for services between London and the West Midlands on the West Coast Main Line. Instead, the number of local services would be increased.
Coventry is run by Labour, but the motion was backed by all parties and proposed by two Conservative MPs.
It states: “This council formally objects to the current proposals for High Speed 2, noting its route would bypass the city and have a massive effect on the current fast service both North and South served well by Coventry Station.
“It would also devastate the long term development plans for the city centre. We agree to formally work with Warwickshire County Council and the district councils in support of their objections.”
In forwarding the motion, Coun Nigel Lee (Con, Westwood) said the HS2 line would build over the Meriden Gap and see Coventry absorbed into a Greater Birmingham conurbation. He said: “For as long as I can remember our businesses have looked at Coventry and saw it as the centre of England, connected to all the major motorway networks. We won’t gain anything.”
Seconding the motion, Coun Anthony Blundell (Cons, Wainbody) said investment in the city would “grind to a halt” if the plan went ahead,
“I stand here today because I don’t want Coventry to become a second-class city. This would relegate Coventry to little more than a backwater.
“The Friargate development (near Coventry Station) would effectively be dead in the water. The green space between Coventry and Kenilworth would be effectively removed by this and it will be a blot on the landscape. We end up with all the disadvantages and none of the benefits.”
Network Rail has stressed the importance of the high speed rail link to creating more capacity on the West Coast route.
It predicts that the line will run out of capacity in 2024 and, by moving passengers on to the 250mph bullet trains, more local services will be able to use the route.
Paul Plummer, Network Rail’s director of planning and development, said: “The west coast is vital to Britain’s economy.
“The success of the west coast since its modernisation has brought many challenges, and our strategy sets out a range of options to provide extra capacity and a better value railway.
“Thousands of businesses rely on the west coast to reach their markets and prosper, and our strategy will provide the extra capacity needed to help the economy grow.
“This strategy provides more evidence, if it were needed, that Britain must have a high-speed future.”