Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by FREDERICA MILLER frederica.miller@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @fred­diam

THOU­SANDS of peo­ple have signed a pe­ti­tion at­tempt­ing to bring the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) project to a halt.

Cam­paign group Stop HS2 launched the UK par­lia­ment e-pe­ti­tion on Thurs­day Septem­ber 21.

On Tues­day it was trend­ing on the web­site and had al­ready gath­ered 8,385 sig­na­tures.

If a pe­ti­tion gets 10,000 sig­na­tures, the gov­ern­ment has to re­spond and at 100,000 sig­na­tures the pe­ti­tion will be con­sid­ered for de­bate in Par­lia­ment.

The pe­ti­tion calls for the £55 bil­lion project to be “im­me­di­ately can­celled.”

Pe­ti­tion or­gan­iser Joe Rukin said: “HS2 is a van­ity project, lob­bied for by the firms who will make billions out of build­ing it, at a time of con­tin­ued aus­ter­ity and cuts to es­sen­tial ser­vices.

“In­de­pen­dent econ­o­mists, rail ex­perts and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have all heav­ily crit­i­cised the project, but Gov­ern­ments have re­fused to lis­ten.

“HS2 is not a magic wand to cure the north-south di­vide.

“All the in­ter­na­tional ev­i­dence shows it will re­in­force the dom­i­nance of London and in­crease re­gional divi­sions.

“In 20 years HS2 would de­liver ca­pac­ity where it is needed the least, with the low­est flex­i­bil­ity, at the greatest cost, while more ben­e­fi­cial rail projects have al­ready been can­celled.

“The of­fi­cial cost of HS2 has al­most quadru­pled since it was pro­posed in 2008 and it will carry on ris­ing un­less it is im­me­di­ately can­celled.”

The pe­ti­tion de­mands to “can­cel HS2 im­me­di­ately and re­peal the 2013 and 2017 High Speed Rail Acts”.

Anti-HS2 cam­paigner Mike Hav­ille said: “I know there have been a lot of HS2 pe­ti­tions, but they all have been dis­jointed. With this one we want to make the gov­ern­ment re­ply and hope­fully, with enough mo­men­tum, de­bate HS2.”

The HS2 project is due to be com­pleted in 2026 and sets out to con­nect London, the West Mid­lands, Leeds and Manch­ester via high-speed rail.

HS2 will run in a tun­nel un­der­neath most of London, but emerges at a point near West Ruis­lip and Ick­en­ham.

Trains will pro­ceed into Buck­ing­hamshire over the Colne Val­ley viaduct.

Gov­ern­ment cal­cu­la­tions show that the cost per mile of HS2 is ex­pected to reach £403 mil­lion, mak­ing it the most ex­pen­sive rail­way in the world.

In July 2017 the gov­ern­ment awarded con­tracts worth a to­tal of £6.6bn to com­pa­nies to build HS2, in­clud­ing cri­sis-hit firm Car­il­lion.

Construction is ex­pected to be­gin next year on the London to Birm­ing­ham route, with work due to start on tun­nels, bridges, em­bank­ments and viaducts, cre­at­ing 16,000 jobs across the coun­try.

The dead­line for the pe­ti­tion to “can­cel HS2” is March 21 2018.

A De­part­ment for Trans­port spokesman said:”HS2 will be­come the back­bone of our na­tional rail net­work, sup­port­ing growth and re­gen­er­a­tion and help­ing us build an econ­omy that works for all.

“As HS2 will trans­form our rail net­work for the 21st cen­tury, it will cre­ate more seats for pas­sen­gers and free up space on the ex­ist­ing net­work, en­abling more com­muter ser­vices on some of our busiest sub­ur­ban rail­way lines, lead­ing to bet­ter jour­neys for pas­sen­gers. In west London, pas­sen­gers will mas­sively ben­e­fit from the new Old Oak Com­mon sta­tion, with con­nec­tions to Cross­rail, Heathrow, the north via HS2 and the west of Eng­land.”

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