HS2 decision delayed

The government will delay its final decision on the planned route for the High Speed Two (HS2) rail line to consider a new proposal to build a tunnel for the line.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening had been expected to announce plans this month for a new bill to be brought forward, but the final decision will now not be made until January.

Ministers are considering a new scheme that would see a 1.5-mile tunnel built under the Chiltern Hills, at an additional cost of £500m.

Campaigners have opposed the proposed HS2 route because of its impact on the environment, and the government is hoping the use of a tunnel through an area of outstanding natural beauty will help head-off opposition.

The delay is unlikely to affect the overall timing of the programme's delivery, with the bill unlikely to become law until 2013, with construction work expected to start in 2015.