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A shame that the proposal is so far into the future. By being slated for 2015 it looks like a second term promise so perhaps not really worth more than the great headlines today - I don't want this to be like the present government's promise to give Crossrail the green light, something which only happens more than a decade after coming into power for something which had already been planned 3 years before the election. Surely it could be done sooner? A good proportion of the money could be found on day one of a new administration by closing the Regional Development Agencies and using their budgets. If Boris has managed to get the Thames Estuary airport going by then I'd expect that the existing St Pancras-Ebbsfleet line could gain a branch to the airport at relatively low cost.

Nice to see that the Party took on board my comments in the "North is dead, move everyone to Oxford and Cambridge" report discussion though!

Generally good news, but the justification is still on the lines of "London to somewhere else". i.e. promulgating our problem of a national economy dangerously reliant on London

I'd like to see the Cons giving thought to strategic inter-urban transport investment between cities outside London (e.g. Newcastle and Leeds etc) as part of a wider promise to rebalance our economy and create proper centres of enterprise outside of the capital to challenge London.


Jam tomorrow,

Jam next year,

Jam for twenty years.

No end to jams until 2027.

A pointless announcement.

This is all just fantasy stuff! Dave and pals are exposing themselves to the same ridicule that Johnson encountered over, 'Fantasy Island.'

Someone will have to grasp the nettle, a third runway at Heathrow a second runway at Gatwick, get on with it.

A new airport to replace Heathrow

A new train service by 2027

This isn't idealism nor forward planning but a shirking of meeting TODAY'S challenges

Ron McDonald - I regularly commute between Leeds and Newcastle. While it would be great for me for the line to be upgraded in the same way as the proposal, it isn't essential and wouldn't have nearly the same benefit as the proposal (arguably a proper fast link for the dozen or so miles from Sunderland to Newcastle would do more for the North East than upgrading an already decent line). However, it is not entirely fanciful to suggest that maybe the Scots might have an interest in a jv with appropriate parties in the North East to construct a high speed Edinburgh - Newcastle - Leeds link to join the London-Leeds service.

Like it or loathe it, London is our principal city and the attractiveness of our great regional cities is enhanced by making connections to London better.

I like this proposal. It’s far more productive than make-work military projects (e.g. aircraft carriers) and it’s refreshing to see politicians looking at solutions that won’t bear fruit within their likely career-span. If we had more of that long-term thinking then today we wouldn’t be so dangerously close to an energy crisis.

However, while the rail link will reduce the pressure on London’s airports, like Ron McDonald I am sceptical about further entrenching London as the nation’s transport hub. I’d have thought it’s a better idea to reduce the load on London by developing our transport network more as a grid (rather than spokes). Perhaps the details of land purchase make this impossible.

As for 2027… that doesn’t seem unrealistic for a civil engineering project of this scale and does 1989 seem so far away?

Why the lack of ambition with the time frame?

I hate the "something must be done" crowd but something must be done!!!

When you strip away the layers of greener-than-thou spin (and distractions such as Boris Island), the result of HS2 is an extra runway within 40 minutes of central London (better known as Birmingham International Airport). In a world with HS2, it would make good business sense for long-haul airlines to use BHX, as it would allow them to stop duplicating flights between a London airport and one up north.

All said, this is an excellent policy that will create a genuine multi-modal hub to rival Schiphol, but we need something concrete: at least the London-Birmingham stretch of HS2 somewhat sooner than 2027.

No, DCMX, not "jam tomorrow" but a firm commitment and a promise to do something which badly needs to be done!
Delighted at the announcement which will remove the need for a third runway at Heathrow and will hopefully deliver a swathe of more blue seats across West London....

Pressure group Greengauge 21 estimate 2022 as the completion date if the project was begun today. 2027 might seem cautious but, with financiers wanting a return, it would be far worse to be hostage to an overly optimistic schedule.

A rail link from Heathrow to the rest of the world apart from London would be a better idea. What is so difficult about making the track go west as well as east at the junction with the Paddington Bristol line. Better still a line out the other side to join the rail network between the M25 and Staines would take thousands of cars off the road and would only require a few miles of track across unused land between 2 reservoirs next to the M25.

At every other major northern European airport they have managed to connect their airports to their national rail networks (Schipol, Paris CDG, Brussels, Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt, Munich, Stockholm, Copenhagen). Why can't we get it right in the UK?

Posted by: Alan S | September 29, 2008 at 10:49

Alan. Today's challenge is already being met. Labours' 11 years of scorched earth economic policies combined with blaming the City for all it's short(sic) comings will drive institutions to Germany, thereby obviating the need for a third runway. 2027 sounds fine as a recovery date for the economic holocaust wreaked by GB, so it'll all work out in the end.
Hong-Kong and Gibraltar both have airpots built partly on water. There has been an entire city built on a man-made island in the Persian Gulf. The technology is proved. What's so unreasonable about Boris Island?

Good policy but why stop at Leeds? What about regenerating the North East...
Could do with some good news after the Policy Exchange report!!

Posted by: Mark Williams | September 29, 2008 at 12:11 :
At every other major northern European airport they have managed to connect their airports to their national rail networks (Schipol, Paris CDG, Brussels, Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt, Munich, Stockholm, Copenhagen). Why can't we get it right in the UK?

Sorry to correct you on this but...

Munich airport is **not** connected to any national rail networks, it only has commuter trains (S1 and S8) which go to Munich city. You have to change at either Munich central station or Munich East to get national rail connections.

Zurich airport is not on the main line, if you're travelling to or from the airport on an InterCity train e.g. from Basel or from Austria you have to get to Zurich central station using a local train and change there.

**Some** main line trains stop at Frankfurt airport, certainly not all of them - often you have to change at Mannheim (heading South) or Frankfurt central station (heading North).

(Yes, I use these airports and train services frequently...)

Posted by: Mark Williams | September 29, 2008 at 12:11:

...and I missed Stockholm. Stockholm has the "Arlanda Express" - about as good value as the Heathrow Express. There are a handful of national rail connections from Stockholm Arlanda - for the rest you have to change at Stockholm central station. By far the cheapest way to get there is by bus (!)

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, eh? :-)

Before any new high speed rail link we should complete the reopening of the East West rail link from Oxford to Bedford via Milton Keynes on existing tracks at a fraction of the cost - a project which has been slowly progressing through the interminable planning and consultation process ever since 1995.

Theresa Villiers just gave a pretty poor interview on Fivelive. She really needs to get on top her brief before talking to the press. She didn't do the idea or herself any favours.

Tory Jim:
You can take any of 70 long distance trains a day from Arlanda to Uppsala, Södertälje, Gävle, Hudiksvall, Sundsvall, Östersund, Åre, Borlänge, Falun, Leksand, Mora, Nyköping, Norrköping or Linköping. It's a different service to the Arlanda Express, which shares more than just a name with the Heathrow Express; they are both poor value. 70 national trains a day is 70 more than you get from Heathrow.

There are many intercity trains that go to Zurich Airport (I think they all stop at Zurich central), possibly not from all Swiss cities, but again certainly more than go to and from Heathrow.

And what is wrong with Frankfurt? There are plenty of trains going to Mannheim going south and Frankfurt going north where you can make connections to the rest of the network.

Likewise the service in Munich is far better than Heathrow. The train service goes to the main train station where you can change to go anywhere in the region.

Compare that with the Heathrow Express where you can take a 20 minute ride to London to catch a train that will take you back 15 minutes along the same line past where you started. Either that or take a taxi or the underground to the other side of town if you are heading to the other side of London.

@ ToryJim

All east - west main line trains run through Zurich Airport station (eg Geneva Airport - Geneva - Lausanne - Bern - Zurich - Winterthur - St.Gallen).

Basel is actually connected directly with an hourly train service which bypasses the Zurich Main station.

Additionally there are hourly direct services from Lucerne, Interlaken, the so called Jura South line, the Wallis, plus other towns in the north east.

The only destinations not directly connected are the Ticino, Grisons (Graubuenden), Schaffhausen (fast S16 instead) and any international destinations with the exception of Munich.

However, this does not really matter as Zurich is, like most major railway junctions, a so called connection spider. The trains arrive shortly before and depart shortly after the full and half hour, respectively. In other words superb connections.

Add to this the principle of inter modality. The public transport system is integrated. You can buy a first class season ticket valid for one year for approximately £ 2400... Further, you can buy a single ticket covering a combined bus - train - ship journey without any problems.

As consequence of a reliable, reasonably expensive and PROPERLY FUNDED and system (no, I am not talking about the British Civil Service :o)), passenger numbers are rising for years (+ 6.9 % passenger mileage for the first half of 2008). Though the trains are getting definitely crowded during rush hour too.

Posted by: Capra Ibex | September 29, 2008 at 18:14:
All east - west main line trains run through Zurich Airport station

Basel is actually connected directly with an hourly train service which bypasses the Zurich Main station.

AFAICT, there are three connections per hour from Zurich airport to Basel, two of which involve changing at Zurich central station.

Not sure what your definition of "being on the main line" is (?) but from where I'm standing that's not it. If you just missed the direct connection, would you wait 55 mins for the next direct train, or would you head for Zurich Hbf and change (like everyone else)?

I'm not saying the service is bad - I've used it, and it's great - but let's not kid people that Zurich airport has some kind of extra-special-even-better-than-Zurich-Hbf kind of service... because it doesn't.

Posted by: Mark Williams | September 29, 2008 at 17:54:
You can take any of 70 long distance trains a day from Arlanda to Uppsala, Södertälje, Gävle, Hudiksvall, Sundsvall, Östersund, Åre, Borlänge, Falun, Leksand, Mora, Nyköping, Norrköping or Linköping

"Long distance"?? Arlanda to Uppsala is about 22 miles!

AFAIK for trains to Sweden's *major* cities you often/always have to change at Stockholm central - Malmo, Gothenburg and Karlstad spring to mind (?)

Your knowledge of train routes is deeply worrying ToryJim! I would try and keep this knowledge secret if I were you!

Excellent commitment. A modern forward-looking transport policy at last. And a 'green' policy that instead of taxes, provides a more environmentally friendly attractive alternative. London-Birmingham-Manchester-Leeds is a good route. But surely we don't have to wait until 2027?!

Also I wonder if 180mph might be too slow - apparently it is already 40mph slower than the world's fastest, and the SNCF have tested a TGV train at about 350mph. I think a line should be planned for faster speeds than 180mph, as by the time it is built, technological advances could no doubt enable trains to run at higher speeds much more efficiently.

To have the greatest impact on reducing domestic flights, a high-speed line would have to branch northwards from Manchester to Scotland (going to Scotland via Leeds would be too circuitous, adding to journey times) to enabling Glasgow and Edinburgh each to be come to well under 3 hours from London. This would also eliminate the need between flights between Birmingham and Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh. It is incredible that there are flights over the latter short distance in particular - the trains are so slow (and Labour made that route even slower by forcing a change that led to 125mph trains being replaced by 100mph-restricted ones). I think the Scottish Executive are studying options for high-speed lines to UK cities, so maybe we could work with them and build the line to Scotland earlier.

At the same time, electrification of more of our existing routes should also be a priority, to help reduce dependence on imported fuel, as well as making the railways cleaner, more efficient and more environmentally-freindly.

Eminently sensible to build a new airport in the Thames Estuary rather than a third runway at LHR.It will cut down on noise pollution over London, save 3000 homes being demolished, provide extra jobs and provide a 24 x 7 operation.Super fast trains could transit passengers into the Capital. It would be a showcase for British engineering and join up with the proposed crossrail project.

Tory Jim:
"AFAIK for trains to Sweden's *major* cities you often/always have to change at Stockholm central - Malmo, Gothenburg and Karlstad spring to mind (?)"

Whenever I have travelled from Stockholm to Gothenburg or Malmo I have flown. Starting from the airport helps.

Posted by: Malcolm Dunn | September 29, 2008 at 19:07:
Your knowledge of train routes is deeply worrying ToryJim!

I blame doing far too much (business) travel over the last ten years :-)


Posted by: Mark Williams | September 30, 2008 at 00:07:
Whenever I have travelled from Stockholm to Gothenburg or Malmo I have flown. Starting from the airport helps.

Aha - so are you suggesting that flying is the way to move people around the UK? If so, then you're might be in the wrong thread, this one's about high-speed rail...


Posted by: B.Garvie | September 29, 2008 at 22:46
Super fast trains could transit passengers into the Capital. It would be a showcase for British engineering and join up with the proposed crossrail project.

Not sure about showcasing British engineering. Last time we heard people talking like that they were bragging about Terminal 5.

IMHO people prefer reliable and sensibly-priced over 'showcase', unreliable and/or over-priced.

Rail is not efficient, a motor bus uses ;less fuel per passenger mile and a high speed train may use more per passenger than an aircraft. The next generation of passenger aircraft using Blended Wing Body technology may use far less runway and land and climb out more steeply and yet use 20% less fuel doing so. Thus the second runway at Gatwick and Stansted and thrid runway at Heathrow may not need to be so long.

If we do need another rail link, re open the Grand Central Railway from Marylebone to Sheffield. The track is still there and in use in part. If HS125 train sets were re -odered for Grandf Cantral railways, then we could have this key railway cheaply since it wont need the mess of electrifiocation and hundreds of miles of Meccano.

This railway could link up with its original cross line from Grimsby to Liverpool via Sheffield, thus creating a rival to Felixstowe and providing yet more scope for Liverpool. All Tory ideas, done cheaply, quickly, with British Technology.

I think we should take back Rhodesia BTW.

We have to face up to reality Rail is only ever going to be practical for connecting big cities. Bus’s make great sense and I am sorry to say that the private car is doomed. The longer we wait to bite the bullet the worse the coming crisis will seem. Of course we cannot shrink the car industry today but we should be moving away from waste and towards efficiency. We should have a plan of national survival and we should already be building our alternative infrastructure. I imagine that with the right will life can be vastly improved. Like all addictions petrol and the car seem insurmountable. Most people will not even acknowledge the very real downside our dependence on cars has resulted in.
TSR2 was scrapped because it was unworkable. British production is near nonexistent.
We have replaced all of our good jobs with mcjobs , we have been lazy and that is because our governance has been awful. How did we allow IT to grow up without a BBC operating system? We have sold England down the river every last man jack of us has been betrayed by international communists. Now we have a Tory leadership that only wants to work partime. It is not to late for us to turn the corner and find that our path leads back to the one nation, our Jerusalem of the demi-paradise. We have allowed weeds to grow up and we have encouraged weeds to prosper, it is never to late to pour on the gramoxon I say there is nothing to be feared from the dark green approach. If you think seven bad years approach now and the barn is empty, you have to reduce and ration.
I can assure you that the trend is getting worse so that by the next depression we will have very little world left. Put the average Joe Brit in a red frock and he will excel. We must stop the ever present assault on our Folk our kith and our kin. Maybe you don’t like these words but deep down you know I speak a truth. We have almost lost Britain and England is sinking under a wave of blandness. The PC consensus is being formed right here and right now, so dam the PC consensus to hell if it’s deserving. There is everything left to fight for Brothers, and we have every right to expect success. You see I have an answer and I know that many others of you share my vision. England must rise up and do what it was always meant to do. We can lead the world out of this depression and the very first thing we must ban is "!fairy gold". The Bishops are right Labour is immoral but then so is the Daily Mail.

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Dear Sir/Madam

Why are so many contributions made by individuals who remain anonymous I don't understand it. If you believe in something passionately and post a comment why not own it with pride.

Garryck Noble

Dear Monsieur/Madame

Hello all, notice the French, our neighbours across the sea, they have three runways at Charles De Gaul Airport, and yet Paris is smaller than London, passenger numbers is less, why is that? Boris Johnson of whom I am a fan is against the third runway and is in favour of us waiting 18years for a TGV route to be built to the north. These cheap flights are needed because of the demand. People in the north and Scotland want to be connected to the south. I know there are unhappy people living near these runways and flight paths, and they are voters but Britain must come first. The BAA have begged for 15years for permission to build this runway, they have the land, the finance and the permissions, why do they want to built it? because there is international demand as well as a national one. Projected increases are there, expansion is needed at all airports because of demand. A basic economic rule of supply and demand. Failure to follow this rule will damage London and in consequence our whole island. What about Health and Saftey at Heathrow, at present Heathrow is like our rail network, overstretched and over crowded. An Under archiving airport is as insulting as have only one acceptable rail route, Folkstone to St Pancras our only TGV route. And Why? because the French insisted upon it. How shamefull that a British government has had to rely on the French to set us an example. They have had TGV for 30years we plan to have it in 18years time. I say leave BAA alone give them there requests, don't sell bits off and plan a proper rail initiative that can be accomplished within the governments term. Yes start the TGV program but not in 2015, now!!!!!! All projects that can finance themselves .......help them now.

I have applied to be a Conservative PPC and am waiting to be invited, I think only a conservative government can deliver what the British people need. Complacency though is a traditional political trait here in our country so we need new blood new ideas and new enthusiasm, we need PEOPLE's MP's. MP that put there county first as does our Sovereign.

au revoir

Mr Garryck Noble

amazing post about Tories promise 45 minute rail link to Birmingham (but not until 2027) thanks for sharing!!

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