THE campaign against the high speed rail line has made a dramatic move forward after transport bosses agreed to look at an option of a tunnel through Ealing.
Residents along the route from East Acton to Perivale, with the backing of Ealing Council, have been lobbying HS2 for the tracks to be tunnelled beneath the borough.
And this week, HS2’s chief executive, Alison Munro, finally gave in to pressure and has agreed to undertake ‘a tunnelled option through Ealing, including environmental impacts and cost’.
Present proposals see the line tunnelled from Euston to a new interchange at Old Oak Common in East Acton, then follow the Central line tracks above ground through Ealing before going back into tunnel between Northolt and West Ruislip.
Ealing Council’s transport chief, Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, said he was ‘delighted’ engineers were finally listening to this ‘common sense’ request, which is a beacon of hope for the hundreds of households who could be blighted by the 250mph trains.
He added: “It made no sense that HS2 should be tunnelled everywhere else in London, but in Ealing HS2 had not even done the groundwork to see how much it could cost or what the impact would be.
“We’ve been working with them to help them see the light that a tunnel needs to be seriously considered and is the clear preference for residents - from Northolt, Greenford, Perivale, Ealing and Acton - to alleviate the serious issues they face under the current proposals.”
Alex Nieora, chairman of Ealing North Against HS2, cautiously welcomed the news. “It’s a step forward but we want the council to scrutinise any figures they come up with,” he said.
“They (HS2 Ltd) might come up with plans and costing that are way off the mark. They have said constantly throughout that a tunnel is not an option so they maybe doing it (the costing) because they need Ealing Council to co-operate. And afterwards they can say ‘we tried but it’s not a viable option’.”
Eddie Pawley, who lives close to the tracks in Selborne Gardens, Perivale, said: “What’s the argument against giving us a few more miles (in tunnel) through Perivale where there are many more residents affected than in Hillingdon.”
It is worth noting, after its own research last year, Ealing Council managed to slash Transport for London’s original estimate to install a lift at Greenford station from £10million to £1.9million - work is now in the pipeline to finalise these plans.
HS2 Ltd will conduct the study in the coming months and present the findings to the council and residents.
For more information on the local campaign, visit www.ealing-against-hs2.co.uk .