The Government is listening to the concerns of residents and small business owners whose properties could be demolished to make way for high speed trains, Gordon brown has pledged.
But the Prime Minister warned that Britain had to decide whether to go ahead with the £30 billion rail line or not - even if it caused problems for people on the proposed route.
Mr Brown said the Government’s support for high speed rail was a sign of its commitment to boost regional economies, particularly the manufacturing heartland of the West Midlands.
Labour’s announcement of a new 250mph rail line cutting journey times between London and Birmingham to 49 minutes has been warmly welcomed by the city council and business organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce.
But owners of small and medium sized firms on the proposed route have spoken of their shock at learning their properties may be scheduled for demolition. Around a dozen companies in Bromford and Castle Bromwich are likely to be shifted. And villagers in Warwickshire are campaigning against plans to build track near their homes. Mr Brown promised that Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis would listen to their concerns.
“For those people who are affected in the different areas of the country by the building, Andrew Adonis is consulting widely. We will listen to what people say.
“But I think we’ve got to make an in-principle decision - is this the way we want to move forward? And to deal with all the problems people have with it in a considerate way. But the project is a massive project which is a huge boost to the West Midlands.”
He added: “I visited Birmingham on the day we made the announcement, and I think that the way the high speed rail of the future is going to be configured makes Birmingham and the West Midlands the hub of the system.
“Whereas in the past, every train came in to London, the high speed rail route goes up to Birmingham and then forks off in two directions.
“So it is a huge boost to the West Midlands and it is worth thousands of jobs, both in the construction stage and in the delivery of these fast services.”
Mr Brown also said there would be further decentralisation of Government, with civil servants moved out of London to “mini Whitehalls” in the regions, while the regional minister, currently Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North), would have more say in how government funding of more than £500 million was spent in the region.