The controversial High Speed 2 railway line suffered a fresh blow today as it was revealed the train would exceed international noise restrictions.
It is feared that trains on some rural parts of the proposed Leeds to Manchester route will have to go slower to avoid breaching the new World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
It is the latest setback to hit the £56billion line which has attracted criticism for its massive budget leading to many calling for the project to be axed entirely.
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Under the current plans, phase one of the high-speed rail link will open between London and Birmingham in December 2026 before the railway is extended to Crewe, Manchester and Leeds by 2033
It had already been rumoured that HS2 officials are considering cutting the speed of the train to limit spiraling costs and the likelihood of this happening has now increased to stop it being too noisy, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
In October last year the WHO drew up new guidelines on nighttime railway noise which ‘strongly recommends’ keeping it below 44 decibels as this is ‘associated with adverse effects on sleep’.
But maps detailing HS2’s likely operational sound show some countryside homes positioned near the track will be exposed to a noisy 60 decibels.
Joe Rukin, campaign manager of Stop HS2, which has over 100,000 supporters, said that the breaching of WHO limits is another reason to axe the project.
He told MailOnline: ‘The whole thing has been a con from the start…The extra money it would cost so that HS2 is not a danger to health in this way is just another reason to stop it.
‘The increases will just keep going up and up.’
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen also slammed the revelations and told the Sunday Telegraph it was time to scrap the high speed train line.
He said: ‘These environmental concerns are yet another nail in the coffin of the HS2 project…
‘It’s time for the Government to put this huge white elephant project out of its misery.’
Yet a HS2 Ltd spokesman told the newspaper that the designs were not the final plan which will take into account the WHO recommendation as well as methods to combat excess noise.
Earlier this month cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom broke ranks to hit out at HS2’s soaring price tag.
The Commons leader wrote to the project’s boss, Mark Thurston, to brand it an ‘absolute dismay’.
A spokesman for HS2 Ltd said: ‘The noise contour maps form part of the working draft Environmental Statement for Phase 2b of HS2 and show our work in progress.
‘These maps do not reflect the final scheme design. As we consult with communities and further develop the project, we will be ensuring that we take full account of the World Health Organisation’s guidance on noise levels.
‘All our work on noise levels to date has taken into account World Health Organisation guidance. HS2 noise specialists formed part of the working group that helped develop these new guidelines.
‘Our noise levels policy also adheres with all applicable UK and European legislation.’
HS2 may have to run slower and less frequent trains to slash costs, its chief executive has admitted. The graphic pictured details how much the new HS2 line is costing
A Dispatches investigation aired by Channel 4 claimed ministers are so alarmed by HS2’s price that they are ‘increasingly minded to kill off the scheme’. Pictured an artist impression of an HS2 train
WHAT IS HS2 AND HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
HS2 (High Speed 2) is a plan to construct a a new high-speed rail linking London, West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester.
The line is to be built in a ‘Y’ configuration. London will be on the bottom of the ‘Y’, Birmingham at the centre, Leeds at the top right and Manchester at the top left.
Work on Phase One began in 2017 and the government plans envisage the line being operational by 2026.
The HS2 project is being developed by High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd.
The project has a projected cost of £56 billion ($77 billion), up from the initial cost of £32.7 billion ($45 billion) in 2010.
Last year’s annual report showed that the company established by the government to build the railway spent £500 million in the year to March 31 – up almost 30 per cent from £352.9 million the year before.
It takes the total amount spent by HS2 so far to more than £1.9billion since 2009.
Separate accounts published by the Department for Transport also showed it had spent another £366 million on HS2.
The bulk of this was on compensating individuals and businesses who own property and land near the planned line.