Route changes will be made to appease objectors

The government is this morning set to approve plans for a £32bn high speed rail line linking London and Birmingham despite fierce opposition from local, mainly Conservative, MPs.

Transport secretary Justine Greening will this morning give the green light to the 200mph line, and is expected to announce alterations to the route that will see the line tunnel through some of the most environmentally sensitive sections.

The line, on which the first trains will run in 2026, is designed to be the first part of a high speed rail network linking London with northern cities both east and west of the Pennines.

The line, called High Speed 2, has been fiercely opposed by some environmental groups, as well as MPs representing the constituencies along the route, with one, Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan, threatening to resign over the issue. Plans for a tunnelled section north of Amersham under the Chiltern Hills are thought to be in part a bid to reduce political fall-out from the go-ahead.

This morning’s go-ahead will give the green light from preparations for the line to begin in earnest. Last year HS2 short-listed Turner & Townsend, Mace, CH2M Hill and Parsons Brinckerhoff for the high profile role of development partner on the £32bn rail project, with today decision meaning it is now free to make a final decision on the role.