HS2 will be the 'Union Railway' of England and Scotland - Adonis

TRANSPORT Secretary Lord Andrew Adonis has declared his commitment to a new high-speed rail line between London and Scotland, speaking at the Labour Party conference in Brighton.

"I see this as the union railway, uniting England and Scotland, north and south, richer and poorer parts of our country, sharing wealth and opportunity, pioneering a fundamentally better Britain," he told delegates.

Setting out his policy for high-speed rail, Lord Adonis said:  "My support for high-speed rail as an alternative to short haul flights was described recently as 'insane' - insane by no less an authority than Michael O'Leary of Ryanair. ... But let me say something about sanity and insanity in transport policy.

"Insanity would be planning yet more motorways and short-haul flights between our major cities where high-speed rail can meet demand.

"Sanity is to plan for the 21st century with 21st century technology - fast, clean and green.  High-speed rail wins on all counts. For large passenger flows between major cities, it is far more energy efficient than cars and planes. It gives huge extra capacity. It slashes journey times and it takes people to the centre of cities connecting directly into other public transport. That's why I think that for Britain, high speed rail is a no brainer.

"Most of Europe and Asia thinks so, too. In Europe alone there are now 3,600 miles of high speed rail, plus an extra 7,300 miles in construction or planning.

"The trouble is that only 68 of those miles are in Britain, and even those 68 don't connect any of our major cities, much as I love Folkestone.

"By contrast Paris-Marseille, Frankfurt-Hannover, Madrid-Barcelona, Rome-Milan - all are now linked by 200 mph high-speed trains ...  yes, displacing thousands of short-haul flights in the process. But London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh - all are still dependent on slow, saturated, Victorian railways.

"Two thirds of journeys from Scotland to London are therefore by plane.
This must change. That's why over recent months my team has been working so hard to prepare a high-speed rail plan for Britain.

"It won't be easy. A north-south high-speed rail line is a 20-year project, with big planning and financial implications. But I've always been an optimist not a fatalist, and Labour's whole approach to this great project will be one of 'can do' not 'can't do'."


Lord Adonis also confirmed the plan to invest £14 million in new cycle hubs at many stations in the north of England and central London, which was announced by the DfT at the start of this week. Four franchise holders are to receive a share of the new investment.

One of the four, Northern, has told Railnews that it is now drawing up detailed plans for improved cycle facilities at a number of stations in the Leeds area, and that it hopes to publish a list of the stations involved during the coming month.

Lord Adonis added: "Joining up different ways of travelling is fundamental to green transport.  Not just bikes and trains but better bus interchanges, more car parking at stations, more parkway stations, encouraging people to leave the car at home or to use it for only part of their journey."

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