Conservative transport spokesperson Theresa Villiers has said a Tory government would stop the expansion of Heathrow, aiming to cut 66,000 Heathrow flights a year by encouraging people to use trains.
She said they will scrap the third runway, and plan a £20bn high-speed rail line between St Pancras in London and Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. They hope the line would increase use of the Eurostar, based at St Pancras, to the continent, and free up the West Coast Mainline for more commuter journeys.
Journey times would be cut from 125 minutes to 80 minutes from London to Manchester, and from 55 minutes to 17 minutes between Manchester and Leeds. They also proposed a high-speed link between St Pancras and Heathrow. All this echoes a very similar call in a report publshed by Arup in May.
Ms Villiers is set to announce the Tories would spend £15.6bn over 12 years on the project, and would look for a private sector contribution of £4.4bn.
See here for lookwest coverage of the Arup report.
LB Hounslow came out strongly in support of the Tories’ stance. Speaking on behalf of Hounslow Council Cllr Barbard Reid, the lead member for aviation Council said: “The hundreds of thousands of people who say NO to expansion at Heathrow will welcome this news. Our job now is to continue working with people of all political parties to persuade the Government to abandon their increasingly unpopular plans for airport expansion and join the debate about high speed rail.”
Hounslow Council is part of the 2M Group of local authorities which published its own vision for a new UK high speed rail network in July. The councils argue that such a move could reduce the need for domestic and short haul flights. Heathrow would be an integral part of this new network which would enable people who might otherwise take an internal flight, to travel to the airport by rail.
The 2M blueprint was devised by civil engineer Colin Elliff and was published on July 21 by as part of its contribution to the national debate on transportation policy. The 2M Group is an all-party alliance of local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities.
The group, which took its name from the 2 million residents of the original 12 members, now represents 21 authorities with a combined population of 4.5 million people.
More information on 2M’s proposals in previous lookwest coverage