29 August 2006
Barrett turns up heat on high-speed Edinburgh to London rail link
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, has today renewed calls for a high-speed rail link between Edinburgh and London to improve links between the capitals and to reduce dependence on polluting short haul flights.
Mr Barrett made the call following reports that a review by the governments chief transport advisor Sir Rod Eddington had ruled out a high speed rail link linking Scotland and London. Sir Rod is a former chief executive of British Airways and his conclusion has prompted accusations that he is favouring the aviation industry.
The Scottish Council for Development and Industry have already called for a high-speed rail link from Scotland to London while rail operator GNER has expressed its concern over the lack of firm plans for such a link between Edinburgh and London. Network Rail have also been supportive of a high speed link.
Experts say a 200mph high-speed rail link of the kind operating in many other countries, would cut journey time to just two-and-a-half-hours. Liberal Democrat Transport Minister Tavish Scott has previously given his backing to such a link.
John Barrett said:
“I believe many people will be surprised at the result of this review. There are many people who travel between Edinburgh and London who would gladly switch to rail if there was a high speed less polluting alternative to air transport.
“Serious investment in a high speed link would not only improve transport links and provide a major boost to the economy, closing the North-South economic divide, but would provide us with fast, environmentally friendly alternatives to highly polluting short haul flights.
“Moving passengers from air to rail would cut down on air pollution while feeing up capacity at Edinburgh airport for the long haul flights to America, the far East and elsewhere that benefit the City and Scotland.
“Rail passengers account for only an eighth of the carbon dioxide emissions of airline passengers per kilometre. In the long-term we have got to be committed to reducing short haul flights which are highly damaging to the atmosphere and providing fast, viable rail alternatives.
“With the current focus on lower our carbon emissions it is high time for the government to commit the necessary funding to lower our emissions and to bring us up to speed with the rest of the world.”