Don’t forget the Tory rail plans!

28 September 2008

Keith Norman said today that the new plans for rail announced at the Conservative Party’s conference are ‘music to the ears’. But he added, ‘We have often seen grand announcements by parties when no election is in sight – but they often alter dramatically nearer - and after - polling day. Rest assured that ASLEF won’t forget today’s announcement – we’ll remind them of these pledges regularly between now and the next General Election!’


The Tories have committed themselves to scrapping a third runway for Heathrow in favour of building a TGV-style high speed rail link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds at a cost of some £20 billion.


‘This would be a massive step in the right direction,’ Keith says, while he insisted that rail links to Scotland and Wales should also feature in the plans. ‘The current outline can be accused of being the work of ‘Little Englanders’, he warned.


David Cameron says that building the first new rail line north of London in more than a century would cut 66,000 flights a year from Heathrow by tempting passengers onto rail.


Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary, says this ‘seriously green decision’ would have ‘been inconceivable for the leader of the Conservative party’ until recently, as the party tries to present its ‘green credentials’. She says a Conservative government would spend £15.6bn between 2015 and 2027 (£1.3bn a year for 12 years) to build the new high speed rail link from London St Pancras to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. A further £4.4bn would be paid by the private sector.


‘A completely new line would allow the existing track to be used for commuter journeys between smaller towns and also hopefully prove a boost to freight traffic,’ Keith says. He concluded, ‘It’s a good plan. Let’s see if this enthusiasm continues over the next couple of years.’

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