Conservative Party commitment to high-speed rail

28 September, 2008

Greengauge 21 welcomes the Conservative Party’s commitment to High-Speed Rail, announced by shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers.

Greengauge 21 welcomes the Conservative Party’s commitment to High-Speed Rail, to be announced tonight by shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers.

Greengauge 21 Director Jim Steer said that: “High-Speed Rail is the key national transport investment needed for the century ahead. It will reduce carbon emissions, reduce oil dependency and provide a huge stimulus to regional economies. High-Speed Rail will add capacity to our national transport network.”

Just ten days ago, Greengauge 21 launched a programme to take forward the strategic planning of High-Speed Rail, funded by a Public Interest Group. “This announcement will be a tremendous spur to that programme of work”, Jim Steer added. “Our aim is to carry out the early work and consultation that is needed to ensure good progress through the early planning stage. High-Speed Rail (HSR) has no natural enemies, and is supported by environmental groups and by business interests. This is reflected in the wide ranging support behind the Public Interest Group.”

Commenting specifically on the plans announced tonight by Theresa Villiers, Jim Steer said: “While these are difficult times for the economy, it is most welcome to see political leadership that recognises the need for serious long term investment. The Conservative Party’s announcement recognises that we need a strategic network of high-speed lines. With careful planning, its benefits can extend beyond the regions where new lines would be built to ensure that north-east England, Scotland, Wales and the south-west also benefit from new high-speed services.”

“New High-Speed Rail has the great advantage of freeing up capacity on our congested main line railways such as the West and East Coast Main Lines, since longer distance non-stop services over these routes will naturally be superseded by high-speed services on the new lines. That means lots more track capacity on existing lines for commuter services into London and other major cities, and for increased freight on rail,” he added.

“Of course the question of funding this strategy has to be addressed, and today’s announcement clearly recognises that such an investment cannot be achieved without public sector commitment over a significant number of years”, Jim Steer said.

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