High speed rail services linking London to Birmingham with 250mph trains will cause disruption for thousands of Midland residents, MPs have warned.
MPs representing angry constituents raised concerns in the House of Commons, following the announcement that a new rail line will be built with trains running up to four times an hour into a brand new station near Curzon Street in Birmingham.
Although the announcement was welcomed by Birmingham City Council and the city’s Chamber of Commerce, it has sparked anger in some of the towns and villages surrounding Birmingham, where residents fear they will suffer from noise and falling house prices without receiving the benefits.
Quizzing Transport Minister Sadiq Khan, MPs representing affected areas said they backed high speed rail but asked for guarantees that residents would have a chance to change the proposed route when a formal consultation begins in the autumn.
Brian Jenkins (Lab Tamworth) said: “My constituents will be affected by this track. They have just had to go through the four-tracking of the West Coast line. That caused disruption with no benefit to the people in my part of the world.
“What can the Minister say to two of my constituents who have now found out via the media that their property will be knocked down as it is on the permanent way for the building of this new line, when they were, in fact, actively seeking to downsize for health reasons?”
Sir Patrick Cormack (Con South Staffordshire) said: “Will the Minister bear it in mind that during my time in the House the residents of south Staffordshire have had their lives disrupted by the building of three motorways?”
Jeremy Wright (Con Rugby and Kenilworth) said: “As the Minister knows, the proposed line would run right through my constituency, including Burton Green.”
He said it was important residents were told exactly how the work would affect them.
And Jim Cunningham (Lab Coventry South) said high speed rail would be “a shot in the arm” for the West Midlands economy, but added: “There is a concern about the corridor between Coventry and Warwickshire, particularly in the Burton Green area.”
He asked the Transport Minister: “Can he give an assurance that there will be both adequate public consultation as soon as possible so that residents’ views are taken into consideration, and a realistic impact study undertaken of the possible effects in the area?”
Mr Khan said: “We would seek to minimise the effects of construction wherever possible. Initial decisions on whether to build a high-speed line and what route that line should take will be taken in the light of the autumn 2010 consultation.
“Thereafter, the full effects and any associated mitigation measures would be subject to an environmental impact assessment as part of the hybrid Bill process, which would itself be subject to further public scrutiny.”