Backing For Leeds High Speed Rail Link

The Government's HS2 high-speed rail plan for trains running from London to Birmingham, with an extension taking in Leeds, has been backed by the House of Commons Transport Committee.

But the committee's approval came with a number of provisos including MPs urging supporters and opponents of the scheme to desist from name-calling and terms such as ``Nimbys'' and ``Luddites''.

The committee said there was a ``good case'' for HS2 which would feature 250mph, 1,100-passenger trains running from London to Birmingham and then on to north-east and north-west England and Scotland.

Bitterly opposed by some residents and councils, HS2 would run through picturesque Tory heartlands in its first phase from London to Birmingham, with the Government due to make a decision on the route before the end of this year.

The committee's report said: ``We have pointed to a number of areas that we believe need to be addressed in the course of progressing HS2.''

These included the provision of greater clarity on the (overall transport) policy context, the assessment of alternatives, the environmental impacts, and connections to Heathrow.

The report said: ``We call on the Government to consider and to clarify these matters before it reaches its decision on HS2.''

The MPs said: ``Unlike policies for major roads and airports, this proposal has all-party support. It is not, however, universally supported by MPs or the public.

``We acknowledge the deeply held and often well-informed views on both sides of the debate.''

The plan is for the London-Birmingham section of HS2 to open in 2026, with a phase two, Y-shaped extension taking in Manchester and Leeds being ready around 2032/33.