Secretary of State for Transport’s statement on High Speed Two

15 January, 2009

Greengauge 21 welcomes the statement by Secretary of State Geoff Hoon on the Government’s plans to develop a proposal for a new high-speed railway line between London and Birmingham and the formation of a company, High Speed Two, to take this forward.

“We welcome today the statement by Secretary of State Geoff Hoon on the Government’s plans to develop a proposal for a new high-speed railway line between London and Birmingham and the formation of a company, High Speed Two, to take this forward. We believe the case for high-speed rail services between London and Scotland is an extremely strong one and today’s announcement represents a significant step forward by Government”, said Greengauge 21 Director Jim Steer.

“Greengauge 21 looks forward to discussions with Sir David Rowlands, the chairman of High Speed Two. We’ll be aiming to ensure that the wider regional economic and other benefits of high-speed rail are given due weight in these important early planning stages”, he added.

Greengauge 21 is lobbying for a strategic national network of high-speed rail routes and has five corridors under study currently. “We will continue this national programme, knowing as we now do that there is a fresh enthusiasm in government, as well as across the opposition parties, to see at least one new high-speed rail line built in Britain”, said Jim Steer. “However, it is important to recognise that we should not just be planning one line in isolation, but looking at High Speed Two in the context of a longer term wider HSR network for Britain, to ensure that future lines form an integrated coherent network. The Greengauge 21 work programme, funded by a Public Interest Group, is unique in having this broader perspective.”

HSR Network

“There are some critical issues ahead in planning rail access to Heathrow Airport. We support the concept of a surface transport hub at Heathrow, which has the potential to reduce car movements in the area and enable a HSR station at Heathrow to serve not just the airport but a much wider catchment across the southeast.”, Jim Steer said.

“However, the Secretary of State highlighted his support for the proposed Airtrack scheme, and reminded the House of commitments already made on Crossrail; the trick will be to make sure that these public transport facilities and high-speed rail come together as a superb and convenient passenger interchange. The detail of arrangements for high-speed rail at Heathrow needs to be developed with this in mind, as well as meeting the specific needs of air passengers. This suggests a facility in the heart of the airport and not at a remote or satellite point that would require passengers to interchange to reach the airport. We are pleased to see that the new company established by the Department for Transport, to be known as High Speed Two, will be open to consideration of alternatives, so that we can get this and other important parts of the project properly defined”, said Jim Steer.

“Our current work programme will continue to look at both 2-runway and 3-runway versions of Heathrow, and we will aim to ensure that our high-speed plans remain independent of how the decision on Runway 3 plays out in practice”, Jim Steer added.

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