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High speed rail ‘will raise £44bn’

High speed rail ‘will raise £44bn’

The HS2 high-speed rail project will cost £32 billion but will generate almost £44 billion in economic benefits over a 60-year period, according to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

He added that HS2, which has attracted strong opposition from residents' groups, as well as certain local councils and some Tory MPs, is essential for the UK.

Mr Hammond claimed that the scheme, with the first phase running from London to Birmingham, would create new jobs, spread wealth and transform the high-speed rail (HSR) network.

He was talking at the launch of a five-month consultation on the HS2 plans, which will see an HSR line running through beauty spots in the Chilterns.

The line would bring London-Birmingham journey times down to 49 minutes.

The second phase of the project would see the creation of a Y-shaped HSR network north of Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, with links to existing lines to Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Those opposing the scheme have described it as a waste of money. But Mr Hammond said: "We must invest in Britain's future."

The Government also announced that only around 10 homes would be expected to experience high noise levels from the line.

Also, in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, all but 1.2 miles of the lines would be either in tunnel, in a cutting or alongside the A413.

The Government says HS2 will cut journey times between London and other major cities by as much as an hour, but Lizzie Williams, chairman of the Stop HS2 group, believes the project is "a complete waste of taxpayers' money when we can least afford it".

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