The Stop the Tunnel North Westminster action group protested outside City Hall on the banks of the Thames, waving placards calling for an end to High Speed Two (HS2).
The group told a committee investigating the rail link from central London to Birmingham they had been shut off from the plans and warned that properties would be damaged during years of disruption to areas already hit hard by the Crossrail development.
Chairman of the group Julius Hogben said: “HS2’s aim is to keep the public in the dark as much as possible and rush this monstrous project through Parliament.”
Queen’s Park activist Katie Cowan said: “They did not tell us about their plans until April and we have had problems getting information from them.”
HS2’s proposals include running trains in a tunnel run under north Westminster at a depth of 30-35metres.
The group told the committee that “no data” had been provided on whether noise from the tunnel would be heard in their homes.
Plans to build a huge ventilation shaft in Queen’s Park was described by committee panel member Murad Qureshi as “a big hole in the ground which will surpass anything that we have seen before”.
Mr Qureshi wants the route to terminate in Acton and not smash through central London.
HS2 were notable by their absence despite being called to give evidence. Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, who chairs the cross-party transport committee, told the West End Extra: “I was extremely disappointed and frustrated that we were let down by the department and HS2 when they are the promoters of the project. We wanted to have a balanced discussion focusing on the issues affecting London and we have not been able to do that.”
Though HS2 did not present evidence to the committee, they had support at City Hall in the form of Adam Raphael, a journalist and member of the Campaign for High Speed Rail, who said the scheme was “essential to economic development” and would help address economic imbalances across the country. He said: “We’re 60 years behind France, 20 years behind Spain and about the same in Germany. Let’s get on with it.”
The government’s public consultation on the HS2 ends at the end of this month.
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