|HS2 Rail Link to Be Tunnelled Through Ealing|
Victory for campaigners
The High Speed Rail Link (HS2) will be Tunnelled from Old Oak Common to Northolt.
The news signals a victory for local campaigners who said previous plans for a surface route would have meant 18 road bridges through Ealing having to be replaced and three and a half years of bridge replacement works at the Hanger Lane roundabout.
However, in an announcement made at lunchtime today, HS2 has finally eased the anxieties of Ealing and Acton residents by recommending changes to the line to ease blight for thousands of local people.
HS2 Ltd is now recommending to the Secretary of State for Transport that a nine kilometre tunnel is built between North Acton and Northolt, linking with the tunnel in West Ruislip which had been proposed as part of the original plans. This will make it the longest tunnel on the route on at 14km.
The Department for Transport has said that HS2 will virtually halve journey times between London and Manchester from two hours and eight minutes to one hour and eight minutes. The London to Birmingham section of the £33bn rail project aims to be running by 2025.
The original route of HS2 through the borough would have seen it built beside the existing Central line track to Northolt. As well as the loss of homes and businesses, it would have caused massive traffic disruption particularly at Hanger Lane gyratory, one of London’s busiest junctions.
Local campaigner Alex Nieroa said: '' 'This is absolutely fantastic news - a real triumph for local grassroots activism - but also indicates the incompetence of HS2 Ltd. They are now finally admitting that a tunnel is financially and environmentally less costly and would take 15 months less time than a surface route. Its taken them two years to work out what we've told them from day one - and we are local volunteers - giving hours and hours of our spare time because we care about our community. We are not paid six figure salaries like some of the people at HS2 Ltd.''
Commenting on the decision, Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Residents and businesses can now breathe a huge sigh of relief with the excellent news that the government has listened to the compelling arguments we set out to tunnel HS2 throughout the whole borough. There will no doubt be celebrations in homes and businesses and this is a victory for the course of action we took with the support of our amazing residents.”
HS2 Ltd community and stakeholder manager for London, Peter Fry, said: “The recommendation to build a tunnel through Ealing and Northolt shows what can be done by working with local people and that we value their input and suggestions.”
On hearing the news, local MP Angie Bray said, “We have been campaigning for this tunnel for some time now. I wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport last December urging him to go for the tunnel to avoid the massive disruption and blight for local businesses and residents. He still has to make up his mind finally, but everything points in the right direction now and I will be urging him to confirm the good news for my constituents.”
Dr Onkar Sahota, Assembly Member for Ealing and Hillingdon said: ''Finally the Government have seen sense in tunnelling through Ealing instead of blighting Acton, Perivale, Greenford and Northolt with years of construction mayhem and superfast trains whizzing past their houses at all hours of the day”
“Local campaigners and Ealing Council should rightly be congratulated for their hard efforts in securing this win”.
“The Government must now ensure a proper and fair compensation scheme with local residents, especially those at the mouth of this tunnel at Ickenham.''
HS2 Limited said in its announcement that if the route is Tunnelled, vent shafts would be needed between North Acton and Northolt. HS2 Ltd will consult on its proposed locations.
23rd April 2013