High-speed rail network needed for greener travel

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 30 Dec 2009 15:16
High-speed rail needed for a greener transport network

Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis has predicted 2010 will be the year of high-speed rail in the UK on the day he received a landmark report for the future of transport.

High Speed Two - the company set up to advise the Government on the development of high-speed rail services between London and Scotland - delivers its highly-anticipated report today. The study is the most detailed examination ever undertaken of how to take forward high-speed rail in Britain.

Andrew Adonis said: "This is an important report which will shape the future of high-speed rail in this country.

"High-speed rail has real potential to regenerate and reinvigorate. Our high-speed network lags behind that of many of our European neighbours and doesn't connect any of our major cities, but this report could change that.

“I am excited about the possibilities that high-speed rail has to transform transport in this country for the better, providing environmental benefits, encouraging investment and boosting business and jobs.

"Scrutiny of the report will begin immediately and we will announce how we plan to take high speed rail forward by the end of March - making 2010 the year of high speed rail in the UK."

Earlier, the Scottish Green Party had urged UK Ministers to act in 2010 to improve rail services between Scotland and London.

Recent research revealed just a sixth of these journeys are by rail, with cost-effectiveness and speed the key issues.

Patrick Harvie MSP said: "Just a sixth of all journeys between Scotland and London are by train, with more than six million domestic flights each year on these routes alone.

“This is shocking, but not surprising, given the way these key rail services have been systematically mismanaged, with delays, inadequate services and massive fares now standard. It's time to end the subsidies for air travel and put the money in to improve rail services instead.

"Ministers must make sure next year is the year of the train, not the year of yet more planes and yet more pollution."

The report from High Speed Two (HS2) presents a detailed route plan for the first stage of a north-south high-speed line, from London to the West Midlands, as well as options for extending high-speed services, and high speed lines, to destinations further north, including the North West, the East Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.

If the Government decides to pursue proposals for high-speed rail, it will publish a white paper by the end of March 2010. The white paper will set out detailed plans for new high-speed rail lines and services, including route proposals, timescales and associated financial, economic, and environmental assessments.

This would be followed by a full public consultation starting in the Autumn of 2010, giving all interested parties an opportunity to comment before the proposals are finalised.

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