Sep 5 2011 By James Cracknell
Cllr Ray Puddifoot
CHILTERN Railways' new mainline service from London to Birmingham is proof that there are alternatives to HS2, according to the leader of Hillingdon Council.
Fast trains between the UK's two biggest cities will begin operating on the route - adjacent to where the government would like to build High Speed Two (HS2) in Ruislip - today (Monday September 5) after a £250m upgrade.
Services will now be up to 20 per cent quicker, although the 90-minute mainline services to Birmingham do not stop at any Hillingdon stations.
The project involved building a new railway bridge over Civic Way in South Ruislip and involved a series of line closures, including for 11 days in August when the job was finally completed five months behind schedule.
But council leader Ray Puddifoot said such developments should be replicated on other rail routes to negate the need to demolish homes and dig up countryside to build HS2.
He said: "The mainline scheme powerfully makes the case that there are alternatives to HS2 and spending £32bn represents very poor value for money.
"We and other members of the 51m Group have said all along that there are alternatives that can be brought in well before 2026, the earliest date HS2 is due to be completed, and at significantly less cost."
Hillingdon is one of the leading local authorities campaigning against HS2 as part of 51m, a group of 17 councils fighting the proposal.
Continued Mr Puddifoot: "We believe that by taking a similar approach to improving the West Coast Main Line, capacity to meet the predicted demand over the next 30 years can be achieved on an incremental basis as and when required.
"In comparison HS2 will not provide any capacity increases to Birmingham until 2026 and Manchester and Leeds until 2033."
The fastest mainline trains on the Chiltern line will travel at peak times from Birmingham Moor Street, via Solihull and Warwick Parkway only, before travelling non-stop to London Marylebone.