06/12/2011 06:01 GMT

High Speed Rail Decision Delayed Until 2012

The government is to delay any decision as to whether to go ahead with High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) until next year, the transport secretary has announced.

Justine Greening said today that she needed more time to consider the options.

Ministers consulted on the HS2 project earlier this year and had initial pledged to report back its findings to Parliament in December.

"Since taking up office in October I have been considering the issues, raised as part of the consultation and additionally have listened to the views of Honourable Members," she said in a written statement to Parliament.

"In order to ensure that my decision is based on a careful consideration of all relevant factors, I have concluded that I should allow myself until early in 2012 to announce my decisions.

"I am therefore notifying the House that I will not be making a further statement on the subject of high speed rail this year, but I expect to announce my decisions in January."

The new rail link is link London to Birmingham and ultimately from Birmingham to the North West and North East of England.

But there has been widespread opposition to the plan, not least among Conservative MPs through whose midlands constituencies the track would dissect.

Opponents include Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan who has promised to resign from the cabinet if the plan goes ahead. While she is secretary of state for Wales, Gillan holds a Buckinghamshire seat.