24 July 2007
Barrett criticises Government over ‘lack of ambition’ on high speed rail
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today called on the government not to abandon proposals for a high speed rail link between Scotland and London after a new government report appeared to pour cold water on the idea.
Mr Barrett, a long time advocate of a high speed link, criticised the government for lacking ambition by failing to properly consider high speed rail as part of the new transport white paper unveiled today.
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.
Experts say a 200mph high-speed rail link of the kind operating in many other countries, would cut journey times from London to Edinburgh to just two-and-a-half-hours.
John Barrett, who is planning to visit a number of high speed rail projects over the summer recess, said:
“I believe many people will be surprised at today’s announcement. There are many I speak to 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. All that is lacking is the political will and ambition from Government.
“Moving passengers from air to rail would cut down on air pollution while freeing 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. Today’s announcement is a missed opportunity to bring us up to speed with much of the rest of Europe.”