Campaigners have vowed to continue the fight to stop HS2 going ahead despite the fact that a Conservative election victory should ensure a smooth path for the £50 billion high-speed rail project, which will connect London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
An HS2 Hybrid Bill is going through Parliament with royal assent expected in December 2016 and work on the first phase, from London to Birmingham, due to start in 2017 for completion in 2026.
A second, Y-shaped route extending the line north of Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds is due to be finished around 2032/33. Labour has been supportive of the project, but if the party had regained power in the election, its ministers were likely to have taken a close look at the cost of the scheme and also considered whether phase two was feasible. Former shadow chancellor and Morley and Outwood MP Ed Balls warned there would be “no blank cheque” for HS2.
Richard Houghton, spokesman for anti-HS2 group HS2 Action Alliance,said: “If people are not directly on the line of HS2, they don’t seem to care.
“Unless the economy takes a complete nosedive, the new Government will push on with the project, although there must be some doubt about whether work will start as early as 2017.
“We will continue our campaign of opposition. We still think this project is an enormous white elephant for which there is no business case, which is unaffordable and which will cut through areas of outstanding natural beauty.”
The project could also face difficulties in its passage through the House of Lords. A recent report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee said the Government had not yet made a convincing case as to why HS2 was necessary.