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Ministers urged to publish HS2 report on high speed to the Midlands before election

January 12, 2010 10:11 AM
Originally published by Liz Lynne

A West Midlands MEP has urged ministers to publish the detailed report from HS2 on a £60 billion high speed link from London to the region as soon as possible, to allow for public debate on the proposals well before a general election.

Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne welcomed news that the report had been submitted by HS2 Ltd on time but said the proposals needed to be published quickly. The government is due to release details only when it publishes a White Paper on high speed links, which is not expected until March.

Liz Lynne has been a longstanding supporter of extending high speed rail to the regions, including conventional Eurostar services. She said:

"I welcome news that the HS2 report for this vital project has been submitted, but it would be a shame if the proposals only emerge during an election campaign.

"It is very important that the cross party agreement which now exists for high speed rail links in principle is maintained. This plan is absolutely vital to the economic future of Birmingham and the West Midlands - we need to be plugged into the economic centre of gravity in Europe without needing more airports or motorways.

"I urge ministers to publish the report with its proposed route as soon as possible - an initial response short of a full White Paper would be reasonable.

"We need a proper and full public debate to build a consensus on the way ahead. With the best will in the world a general election campaign is not the ideal time for that.

"I very much hope the HS2 plan includes a proper link to the Channel Tunnel and the rest of Europe, but of course until it is published no one can be sure."

Liz Lynne also repeated her call for the existing Eurostar service from London to Paris and Brussels to be extended to the West Midlands.

"A dedicated north of London high speed line is essential, but it will take at least 15 years to build. But Eurostar could now link Birmingham International with Brussels in three hours using the West Coast main line and High Speed 1 route beyond London.

"They need to snow proof their trains of course. The chaos before Christmas was a disaster for Eurostar's reputation for customer service but the experts say there is nothing basically wrong with the trains, it is a simple matter of fitting better snow screens."

"Even without the dedicated high speed route that we need, a through Eurostar service to Birmingham could divert significant traffic from air to rail, with huge savings in carbon emissions."