'The Right Track’ - Delivering the Conservatives’ Vision for High Speed Rail

Energy & Transport
Sunday, January 3, 2010

For the last four months the Bow Group's Transport Committee has analysed the various proposals which have been submitted to the Government to build the next phase of high speed rail (HS2) in Britain, connecting London with Birmingham and the north.The Bow Group's detailed analysis, as set out in the attached pamphlet pdf, concludes:· The Government risks choosing the wrong route for Britain's second high speed railway to connect London with Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Scotland.· HS2 should initially be directly linked to Heathrow Airport through the construction of a Heathrow hub interchange station combining HS2, the Great Western Main Line, Chiltern Line, Crossrail and Airtrack services. Other British airports such as Birmingham and Manchester should also be directly linked to HS2.· Heathrow is one of the most difficult national airports in Europe to reach by rail, thus forcing many potential travellers to use other European hub airports. eg, from Bristol alone over 10,000 passengers per week fly to other European hub airports to interline. A Great Western high speed link would allow them to use Heathrow instead. They choose to interline elsewhere due to poor rail access to Heathrow.· Successful HS2 connection through Heathrow will mean more flights from the airport in the long term as more people choose to use the airport.· Without direct HSR connection to Heathrow road traffic congestion and pollution around the airport and the M25 will continue to be amongst the worst in Europe.· The Government must not just listen to the rail industry when making its choice for the route of HS2. British Rail was wrong in its choice for the first section of high speed rail, between London and the Channel Tunnel in the 1980s, and a better route, promoted by Lord Heseltine, was chosen.· A non-direct HSR link with Heathrow and other airports, represented by a loop or spur line, would represent folly in Britain's ambition to develop a truly integrated transport policy.· A successful national high speed rail network should directly connect all of Britain's major airports and cities as is successfully reflected in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.· Britain's traditional North/South economic divide can be bridged by a successful HSR network as it will better bind and co-ordinate economic progress, as has been achieved in France in areas such as the Pas de Calais and the Alsace regions.· The Conservative Party is right to support a direct HSR link with Heathrow. It must move quickly when in Government to secure a 'quick win' and ensure a smooth and swift planning environment is in place.· HS2 linked to Birmingham and Manchester Airports will allow these airports to better utilise spare slots and compete more effectively with the congested south east airports NOTES1) The Right Track - Delivering the Conservatives' Vision for High Speed Rail by Tony Lodge, with a foreword by Lord Heseltine, is published at 0930 on January 20 20102) Tony Lodge is the Chairman of the Bow Group Transport Committee. Lord Heseltine is the former Conservative Cabinet Minister who supported and approved the route for the Channel Tunnel Rail link, now known as High Speed 1. He supported an approach into London from the east, and not the south as suggested by British Rail. This route allowed for the huge regeneration of what is now known as the Thames Gateway.

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