Local people and Ealing Council are celebrating news that the HS2 route will now be tunnelled underneath the borough.
HS2 Limited announced the decision today (23 April) following months of campaigning and lobbying against the original plans that could have had an impact on hundreds of local homes and businesses to make way for the new high speed rail line between London and Birmingham.
The council lodged an objection to the original scheme because of the disruption it would cause locally and lack of detail about the plans. HS2 Limited agreed in August 2012 to carry out a study into a tunnel option, following pressure from Ealing Council and local residents.
Keeping up the pressure, council leader Julian Bell and Councillor Bassam Mahfouz met with the Minister of State for Transport, Simon Burns in December 2012 to appeal on behalf of residents in Greenford, Northolt, Perivale and Acton for alternatives to the original plan to be considered.
HS2 Ltd is now recommending to the Secretary of State for Transport that a nine kilometre tunnel is built between North Acton and Northolt, linking with the tunnel in West Ruislip which had been proposed as part of the original plans. This will make it the longest tunnel on the route on at 14km.
HS2 Ltd’s study found a tunnel was a best option because a surface route would have caused more disruption to traffic, cost as much or more than a tunnel, and would have taken longer to build. The study also found that a tunnel will be 15 months quicker to build than a surface route.
The original route of HS2 through the borough would have seen it built beside the existing Central line track to Northolt. As well as the loss of homes and businesses, it would have caused massive traffic disruption particularly at Hanger Lane gyratory, one of London’s busiest junctions.
Commenting on the decision, Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Residents and businesses can now breathe a huge sigh of relief with the excellent news that the government has listened to the compelling arguments we set out to tunnel HS2 throughout the whole borough. There will no doubt be celebrations in homes and businesses and this is a victory for the course of action we took with the support of our amazing residents.”
HS2 Ltd community and stakeholder manager for London, Peter Fry, said: “The recommendation to build a tunnel through Ealing and Northolt shows what can be done by working with local people and that we value their input and suggestions.”