11 October 2006
Barrett makes case for Anglo-Scottish high speed rail link
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today called on the Government to give its backing to growing calls for a high speed rail link between Scotland and London during a debate in parliament.
Mr Barrett pressed new Transport Minister Tom Harris for firm commitments from the Government during a debate on high speed rail links in Westminster. Tavish Scott, Liberal Democrat Transport Minister has already backed the idea and Mr Barrett, who secured today’s debate is calling on Labour Ministers in Westminster to follow suit.
Sir Rod Eddington is currently producing a report into the future of Government Transport Policy which is scheduled to be published later this month. There have been conflicting reports over whether or not his final report will support a high speed rail link in the UK.
Experts say a 200mph high-speed rail link of the kind operating in many other countries, would cut journey times from Edinburgh to London to just two-and-a-half-hours.
Speaking from Westminster, John Barrett said:
“High speed rail links have been a staple of the transportation system in other countries for over 20 years. However, we remain the most car dependent nation in Europe, with congestion costing the economy £20 billion every year.
“A fast, efficient high speed rail link from Scotland to London would slash journey times, reduce our dependence on cars and highly polluting short-haul flights, and would provide a real boost to the economy helping to close the ‘north-south’ divide.
“Air passengers generate as much as ten times more carbon dioxide emissions than travellers who go by rail. A high speed rail link would have a major impact on controlling our carbon emissions, providing people with a fast, environmentally friendly alternative.
“Rather than rubberstamping a £76 billion Trident replacement, Ministers should consider a high speed rail link that would keep us up to speed with the rest of the world.”
• Mr Barrett was today speaking in a debate on High Speed Rail links in Westminster Hall.
• The entire debate is available on Hansard
• Estimates of the cost of high speed rail link vary from £11-36bn depending on route choice and other factors.
• Independent research commissioned by Eurostar has found that passengers who fly between London, Paris and Brussels generate ten times more emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) than travellers who travel by high speed rail.