Do you back plans for Britain's new High Speed Rail network?

Ruth Doherty

Despite the fact that it will cut through some of England's most stunning countryside, almost half of Britons back plans for a new 250mp High Speed Rail network.

Just nine per cent of those questioned were opposed to the High Speed Rail network – although another 44 per cent were undecided.

The £32 billion project, which is due to start in 2017, is being championed by transport secretary Philip Hammond, who launched the poll by TNS-BMRB, published today as a consultation exercise to win over the doubters.

The ultra-fast link will run between the capital and cities including Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds and would reportedly deliver £44 billion worth of benefits.

Journey times between London and Birmingham would drop from 85 minutes to 49 minutes and from two hours to 73 minutes for Manchester.

They're the plus points. Opponents, however, believe it will destroy acres of beautiful countryside, see hundreds of homes demolished, damage the quality of life for thousands of others and exhaust funding for other rail projects.

'This poll shows that, across Britain, five times as many people support our planned High Speed Rail network as oppose it,' said Hammond. 'Of course we will do everything we can to mitigate the impacts on areas like the Chilterns but projects like this have to be decided on the basis of the national interest and the overall net benefits it will bring to Britain.'