Minister Urged to Back HS2 Tunnel

Council outline 'devastating impact' of overground option

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Representatives of Ealing Council have met recently with a Government minister to lobby for a tunnel to be built as part of the High Speed 2 rail link.

The meeting with the Minister of State for Transport, Simon Burns took place on Thursday 13 December.

Council leader Julian Bell; cabinet member for environment and transport, Bassam Mahfouz, local MP Steve Pound and officers from the council urged Mr Burns to rethink the current proposals to run HS2 overground on tracks beside the Central line from Acton, before re-entering a tunnel just beyond Northolt.

At the council’s request, HS2 Ltd is carrying out a study to compare the current overground option with a tunnel option.

Cllr Bell said: “We made our position clear to the minister and outlined what a devastating impact an overground HS2 link would have on residents and businesses in Northolt, Greenford, Perivale, Ealing and Acton.

“It was a positive discussion and the minister told us that both options were being examined extremely closely. We will, however continue to lobby for a tunnel to avoid misery and disruption for thousands of residents.”

Cllr Mahfouz said: “We believe that the cost of tunnelling would be around the same as the overground option, especially once you take into account the huge impact there would be on homes and the environment if we weren’t to get a tunnel.

“The current overland proposals involving work at Hanger Lane could bring north-west London to a standstill and businesses at Europe’s biggest industrial estate in Park Royal have voiced their concerns to the council, alongside those of residents.”

Local MP Angie Bray also wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick Macloughlin, urging him to consider extending the tunnel so that trains running through North Ealing - under the Hanger Lane gyratory system, along Twyford Abbey Road and parts of East Acton - would go underground.

Cllr Phil Taylor, Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment said, "Whilst we welcome the announcement that the Council is lobbying for a tunnel to mitigate the impact of HS2 on Ealing, we only wish that they have been more proactive from the start by joining the 51M Group who have been lobbying vigorously against HS2. Neighbouring Hillingdon who will be getting a tunnel, submitted an 80+ page submission alongside the 200+ pages by the 51M Group. Ealing send a 2 page holding reply. Ealing should have been on the case much faster."

HS2 agreed this August to look at a tunnelled option for this stretch of the line with environmental impacts and costs being taken into account.

The minister is expected to announce his decision early next year.

December 20, 2012