NORTH Ealing Against HS2 held a 12-hour protest today (Friday, October 14) beside the A40 at the Hanger Lane gyratory, one of the busiest junctions in London.
Vehicles were heard sounding their horns in support of the campaign as they drove past the large, inflatable white elephant mascot.
With an estimated 10,000 vehicles passing through Hanger Lane, this site will be the most affected of the 18 bridges that will need to be replaced if the current plans go through.
“It will mean a huge disruption for Hanger Lane,” said NEAHS2 Chairman Alex Nieora.
The high-speed trains are taller and need wider tracks than those currently in use, which means the bridges will need to be adapted.
While NEAHS2 is affiliated to the national pressure group, which aims to stop HS2 altogether, it is prepared to compromise for a tunnel through Ealing that would be connected to the already proposed tunnels beneath Ruislip.
Ealing Council is in favour of HS2 and a tunnel through the borough and has asked HS2 Ltd to conduct an environmental and cost comparison of a tunnel, compared with the current plans, with the report due at the end of October.
Mr Nieora is sceptical about the study, however.
He said: “We want Ealing Council to scrutinise this and actually work out whether you can do it a lot more cheaply than HS2 suggest.”
Mr Nieora, 28, who grew up in Ealing, said he was concerned about Perivale being split by the HS2, as it was by the widening of the A40 in the 70s.
“There are some real concerns that Perivale may turn into a ghost town,” he said.
NEAHS2 is contesting the £32bn cost frequently quoted for the project, claiming the actual figure would be £79bn or £45bn net for the taxpayer, working out at £1,700 per tax-paying household in a time of severe austerity.
Mr Nieora claims HS2 Ltd has not included costs, such as the need for a cross-rail at Euston station to support the Victoria and Central underground Lines, a point which London Mayor Boris Johnson noted last week.
Eddie Pawley, a campaign spokesman, believes modern technology negates the need to travel as much as in the past.
He said: “Now, people are conferencing at home. The country can’t afford it at this time and they haven’t got the figures right.”
Elsa Pawley, a 60-year-old protester whose house is situated close to the proposed rail, was at the Hanger Lane protest from 7am.
She is unhappy about the consultation, having initially found out about the plans through hearsay.
“No one actually came to my house and said the high-speed railway is coming down this way,” she said.
Another protester, Hara Kitsantonis, 63, is worried about coverage of the issue in the media.
She said: “It’s minimal. It’s going to affect thousands of people and they’re not well informed.”
HS2 Ltd claims it will boost the economy with 20,000 jobs for Londoners alone, a revamped Euston station and better connection with northern cities.
It plans to replace the bridges in phases and build temporary bridges in the meantime to minimise disruption to traffic.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin will make the final decision on the bridge work.