Lord Astor, Stepfather To Samantha Cameron, Criticises HS2 Decision

First Posted: 12/01/12 07:16 Updated: 12/01/12 07:31   PA

David Cameron is facing opposition to the Government's HS2 high-speed rail plans from within his own family - his father-in-law has warned of it "ruining the lives of thousands".

Lord Astor, a Conservative peer and stepfather of the Prime Minister's wife Samantha, has joined Tory opposition to the HS2 network given the go-ahead this week by Transport Secretary Justine Greening.

In an article for The Spectator magazine, he said the plan was backed largely by "northern Labour MPs who relish the thought of the beauty of the Chilterns being destroyed".

He said the need for the £32.7 billion scheme could be bypassed by modern communications.

"There is a perfectly viable alternative, which... would be much cheaper and faster to take effect, without destroying a whole swath of countryside, ruining the lives of thousands," he wrote.

"Have they not heard of Skype and the internet?"

He urged that Ms Greening should "compare HS2 with cheaper options and look at how those savings could be spent on other transport needs".

Amid bitter opposition from countryside campaigners and some Tory MPs, Ms Greening announced this week that more of the London-Birmingham phase of the project would go through tunnels to minimise the impact on the landscape.

The scheme will, by 2026, see 400 metre-long trains capable of holding 1,100 passengers get from London to Birmingham in just 45 minutes.

A second phase to Manchester and Leeds will be built by 2033.

Full coverage of the HS2 decision by the government:

Justine Greening
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"By following in the footsteps of the 19th century railway pioneers, the government is signalling its commitment to providing 21st century infrastructure and connections - laying the groundwork for long-term, sustainable economic growth.

"High Speed 2 (HS2) is a scheme to deliver hugely enhanced rail capacity and connectivity between Britain's major conurbations. It is the largest transport infrastructure investment in the UK for a generation, and, with the exception of High Speed 1 (HS1), is the first major new railway line since the Victorian era."
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Filed by Chris Wimpress  |