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Heathrow high speed rail link mooted

[21st July 2008]

A new high speed rail link from Scotland to Heathrow airport that could make domestic and short haul flights unnecessary has been proposed.

The 2M Group, an all-party alliance of local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of the expansion of Heathrow, has published a new study which it says "demolishes the case for further expansion at Heathrow".

The proposed High Speed North rail line would provide a new fast link between London and Scotland. The 2M Group says it would create dozens of new rail city break options, including Sheffield to Paris in just over three hours, Glasgow to Paris in five hours, and Manchester to Amsterdam in just over four hours.

Unlike other high speed rail links, this new proposal is based on a single spine route that would run initially from London to the East and West Midlands alongside the M1 motorway. In addition to the new rail line, the 2M Group is also calling for "dramatic improvements" in public transport access to Heathrow airport including links to the new high speed network.

The 2M Group took its name from the two million residents of the original 12 members, but now represents 21 local authorities with a combined population of 4.5 million people.

"The country's roads are grinding to a halt and all ministers want to do is put more planes in the sky and more cars on the ground. Even expanding just the existing Heathrow runways would bring another million road journeys. The real demand is for sustainable transport options that actually help people and businesses move around the country," comments Richmond council leader, Serge Lourie.

"We have already seen how the new line from St Pancras has drawn trade from the airlines. If high speed rail is to work it has to work for all parts of the country – it can't just be about London. When people from Edinburgh and Glasgow and Leeds and Liverpool can take the train to Europe then we really start to plan for life without a third Heathrow runway," says John Stewart of HACAN.

Written by: Nick Purdom

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