Britain’s planned High Speed Rail network has taken a small but significant step towards realisation after the government launched a compensation scheme for households that will be affected by its construction.
Anyone who urgently needs to sell their property but cannot because of the proposed line will be able to apply for the government to buy their home.
The proposed multibillion-pound route will feature 250mph trains that the government hopes will phase out domestic air travel within the UK.
The link would cut the London to Birmingham journey time to 49 minutes – around half an hour less than at present. Trains will be up to 400 metres long, and carry up to 1100 people. Initially there would be up to 14 trains an hour.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said the scheme is intended to ensure that “people who currently are faced with extreme hardship as a result of the identification of that route have the possibility of being able to sell their properties”.
Under the Exceptional Hardship Scheme, an independent panel has been set up which will look at applications on a case-by-case basis.
Applicants must show that the property has been on the market for more than three months and attracted no offers above 85 percent of its value before the route was announced in March.
However the government will not buy homes where the proposed route envisages a tunnel running underneath the property.
It suggested that reasons for needing to sell a property urgently could include work, a new baby, divorce, medical problems, a move into sheltered accommodation, or the threat of repossession.