The decision to approve the £32bn High Speed Two rail project has been delayed to allow consideration of a tunnel through the Chilterns.
The project would shave 35 minutes off the journey time between London and Birmingham. It is hoped that if would provide new connectivity to the midlands and north from London and Heathrow, potentially freeing up slots at London’s biggest airport presently occupied by domestic flights to allow an expansion of longhaul operations.
However, the connection to Heathrow is not direct – the most credible proposal is to build an interchange with Crossrail at Old Oak Common. Now the decision has been delayed by Transport Secretary Justine Greening to allow consideration of a £500m plan to build a 1.5m tunnel through the Chilterns, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has advanced the idea of tunnelling the HS2 route under west London to avoid surface running of high speed trains trough Ealing and Hillingdon, but this idea is not mentioned in the latest announcements from the Dept of Transport.
A decision will now be announced in mid-January, reports the BBC.