10:50am Tuesday 29th April 2014
By Matthew Taylor
HIGH speed rail through Cheshire moved a step closer this week after the HS2 bill cleared the second reading stage in Parliament.
The High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill passed its second reading stage by a majority of 452 to 41 on Monday night, April 28.
MPs across Cheshire backed the second reading.
Edward Timpson, MP for Crewe and Nantwich, Graham Evans, MP for Weaver Vale and Tatton MP George Osborne were all in favour.
Winsford’s MP, the Eddisbury constituency member Stephen O’Brien, spoke out against HS2, suggesting engineering work could enable double-decker trains to run on the existing West Coast Main Line, but abstained from the vote.
Fiona Bruce, MP for Middlewich and Holmes Chapel, also abstained.
Richard Houghton of HS2 opposition group HS2 Action Alliance, said: "The telling aspects were that there were so many absences and abstentions.
“That was not an indication of how unimportant this vote was considered, it was proof that it is of massive importance.
"The abstentions and absences should be taken as non-commitment to HS2. The vote means many MPs do not openly support HS2, not including those who were forced to follow party lines.
“Those 'no' votes and a considerable number of absentees should be sending signals that HS2 is not going to get an easy ride, and could even become a key election issue.”
Prime Minister, David Cameron, also missed the vote, which saw 26 Tories opposed.
The bill confers the powers required to construct Phase One of the proposed HS2 scheme from London to Birmingham at a cost of £21.4 billion. The line is expected to be completed by 2026.
A second bill will allow Phase Two construction to bring the line to northern cities including Manchester via a hub station in Crewe for a further £21.2 billion,estimated to be completed by 2033.
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