Tory high-speed rail attack backfires

David Cameron & Boris Johnson clashed over high-speed rail today, with the Mayor insisting more research was needed in to the Tories' plans for a Heathrow link.

Boris Johnson has clashed with David Cameron over the Tory leader’s plans for high-speed rail, which would see 250mph trains travelling from Central London via Heathrow to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, calling for more research to be done. The row follows the unveiling of the government’s plans for a high-speed rail line from Euston to Birmingham, from where the line would fork to Manchester and Leeds.

Johnson told today’s Standard:

We must give the utmost consideration to the exact route and where it will stop … A central London terminal is essential as well as an interchange with Crossrail to the west of London in order to whisk people to and from Heathrow as speedily as possible.”

The Mayor’s transport adviser Kulveer Ranger added:

“He believes thorough research must be carried out before its final location is confirmed. Key to that research should be the location’s ability to support passengers heading to and from Heathrow.”

Johnson’s comments contradict those of shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers, who, in a press release seen by Left Foot Forward, had said:

“Labour have got high speed rail wrong for the economy and wrong for the environment. Their line to Birmingham leaves the North, Scotland and Wales out of the massive social, economic and regeneration benefits of high speed rail. And failing to take high speed rail through Heathrow, would be a big mistake and a major lost opportunity for the environment…

The next Conservative government will begin work immediately to create a high speed rail line connecting London and Heathrow with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, with construction to begin in 2015. This is the first step towards achieving our vision of a national high speed rail network to join up major cities across England, Scotland and Wales.”

The Conservatives had refused the opportunity to co-operate with the government on high-speed rail, turning down an invitation from transport secretary Lord Adonis to view the white paper on high-speed rail, an opportunity Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker accepted, as seen on last night’s Newsnight.

Earlier this week, at the London First and Evening Standard “The future of London Transport” debate on Tuesday, a 100 strong audience of business leaders and Londoners were asked to say which party had the best transport policies before and after the debate. Lord Adonis increased his share from 35 before the debate to 56 after and Baker increased his share from 7 to 11 – but Villiers slumped from 38 to 25, with “others” falling from 20 to 8.

12 Responses to “Tory high-speed rail attack backfires”

  1. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd Tory high-speed rail attack backfires: //cli.gs/4A93H

  2. Tom Callow

    RT @leftfootfwd Tory high-speed rail attack backfires: //cli.gs/4A93H < it is dangerous to play on the tracks…

  3. Mary Maguire

    RT@leftfootfwd Tory high-speed rail attack backfires: //cli.gs/4A93H <slow, slow, quick, quick, no>

  4. Robert Jackson

    The Conservatives have form on using the best as the enemy of the good.

    They effectively scuppered plans for the Midland Metro extension through Birmingham at the 2004 local elections by promising instead to build an underground from the city centre out to the west.

    All that came of it was a consultants bill for many £100K that said an underground was impractical which commonsense foretold. This put back the Metro development by years.

    The Tories have little good to add to the transport debate.

  5. paulstpancras

    RT @MaryxMaguire: RT@leftfootfwd Tory high-speed rail attack backfires: //cli.gs/4A93H <slow, slow, quick, quick, no>

  6. Mr. Sensible

    Theresa Villiers’s comments are a smokescreen, when you consider that it was the last Tory government who privatized and under-invested in our railways.

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  8. Tim Worstall

    “under-invested in our railways.”

    Strange comment given that the subsidy to the railways has gone up since privatisation.

    But on hte Tories plans. What is this fixation with Heathrow? Don’t they understand that the more stops you have on a high speed network there are the less high speed it is?

  9. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  10. Andrew Griffin

    Boris Johnson clashes with Cameron over rail link. //bit.ly/aUTTL5 Are bikes allowed on the planned trains?

  11. paulstpancras

    Tory high-speed rail attack backfires | Left Foot Forward //bit.ly/bfofjf (via @twttimes)

  12. Mr. Sensible

    Tim,
    ““under-invested in our railways.”

    Strange comment given that the subsidy to the railways has gone up since privatisation.”

    Yes, because a Labour government renationalized maintenance by putting Railtrack in to administration.

    We need to remember that all the government invest in is the infrastructure; the services are still run by private companies who make profits off of passengers. That needs to change; we need to renationalize.
    “But on the Tories plans. What is this fixation with Heathrow? Don’t they understand that the more stops you have on a high speed network there are the less high speed it is?”

    Tim, it’s a question of balance.

    It’s no use to some communities that the trains can go from London to Birmingham in XXX minutes if they can’t access the service.

    The Tories are worried about Heathrow because they think, sensibly for once, that having High Speed go through Heathrow would eliminate the need for the Third Runway.

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