Revelations in court as challenge closes

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Five judicial reviews into the HS2 high-speed rail link concluded yesterday, Thursday after a nine-day High Court hearing.

Bucks County Council, South Northants Council, Cherwell District Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council are among 15 local authorities opposing HS2

Campaigner Rae Sloan, from Twyford, attended two days of the review.

She said: “It’s difficult to keep up because they have tomes and tomes of paperwork they are referring to, but it was very interesting.

“The judge did seem like he was being fair. He did comment on how much was involved in it.”

Revelations during the hearing included the actual passenger numbers on the West Coast Mainline. The figures showed that at evening peak times in 2011, trains leaving Euston were only 52.2 per cent occupied.

Tim Mould QC, for the Department for Transport (DfT), said one reason for not releasing the passenger figures during the HS2 consultation was that it would “confuse the public”.

The big revelation on day two, thanks to an internal memo which was released under disclosure, was that the proposed link from HS2 to Heathrow airport would have a benefit cost ratio of 0.3:1. This means for every pound spent the country would only get 30p back.

The HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) began its second judicial review on Wednesday, over compensation for property blight.

Joe Rukin, of Stop HS2 who was in court, said: “The DfT maintain that the Secretary of State wanted ‘fair’ compensation while campaigners wanted ‘full’ compensation. Apparently, there’s a difference.”

The judge’s decision is expected in the new year.