looking at new line to Rugby!
British Railways Modernisation Plan to transform ‘the railways of Britain into the best in the World’ (Note electric loco footage while commentator talks about ‘diesel locomotion’.)
On 15 January Lord Adonis, Minister of State in the Department for Transport, made a statement in the House of Lords on the Government’s plans for transport infrastructure. There was much – much too much – about the third runway at Heathroww. There were some nice sound bites about electrifying Britain’s railways, but no firm promises, and the news that the DfT had registered, HS2, HS3, HS4, HS5, etc. at Companies House.
In the railways, we are already investing £10 billion over the next five years to add capacity while improving reliability and safety. However, given the time it takes to plan and build new rail infrastructure, we need to look well beyond 2014. Electrification is advantageous on heavily used parts of the rail network. Electric trains are lighter, accelerate faster, are quieter and emit less carbon dioxide. We are well advanced in procuring replacement trains for the intercity routes, but before we finalise our plans, we need to decide whether new parts of the network should be electrified. Initial work suggests that the case for electrification appears strongest on the most heavily used parts of the Great Western mainline from Paddington and the Midland mainline north of Bedford. Alongside the work on our new intercity trains, we will analyse the value for money, affordability and financing options of the electrification proposals that Network Rail will put to me shortly. I intend to make a further Statement later this year.
Because of the need to plan for the long term, I can also announce that I am today forming a new company – High Speed Two – to consider the case for new high-speed rail services from London to Scotland. As a first stage, we have asked the company to develop a proposal for an entirely new line between London and the West Midlands, which would enable faster journeys to other destinations in the north of England and Scotland using both existing lines and a new high-speed rail network.
Our experience with Crossrail and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link has demonstrated that advance detailed planning is required to progress such major infrastructure schemes. The purpose of the new company will be to advise Ministers on the feasibility and credibility of a new line with specific route options and financing proposals. Sir David Rowlands will chair the company in the interim. I see a strong case for this new line approaching London via a Heathrow international hub station on the Great Western line to provide a direct four-way interchange between the airport, the new north-south line, existing Great Western rail services and Crossrail into the centre of London. My intention is that by the end of this year the company will have advised us on the most promising route or routes, with their individual costs and benefits.
As is the custom in the Lords, an informative and polite debate followed the Minister’s statement. But no noble Lord queried why – given that Network rail is already looking at routes for new high speed railways, and Lord Adonis has the whole resources of the DfT at his disposal – he needs to set up a new company to consider the case for new high-speed rail services from London to Scotland.
Click here for the whole debate.