July 22, 2008

Rail Link Plan ‘Will End Need for Third Runway at Heathrow’

Council leaders opposed to airport expansion yesterday published plans for a pounds 30 billion North-South, high-speed rail line which they said would "demolish" the case for a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Linking southern England with the Midlands, the North and Scotland, the new line would also join the Channel Tunnel fast-link through Kent.

This would mean the line, which could be completed by 2030, would not only improve links within Britain but could take passengers all the way to major continental European cities.

The ambitious proposal has been made by the anti-Heathrow expansion 2M Group.

Unlike other high-speed rail solutions, the new option is based on a single spine route running initially from London to the East and West Midlands alongside the M1.

The scheme also calls for dramatic improvements in public transport access to Heathrow with links to the new high-speed network.

The group said that making it easier for people in Scotland and northern England to travel to Heathrow by rail routes would reduce the need for internal connecting flights.

The new route would provide direct connections from other parts of the UK to a growing network of European cites including Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Lyon. It would create dozens of new rail city break options including Sheffield to Paris in just over three hours.

Other new routes could include Glasgow to Paris in five hours, Manchester to Amsterdam in just over four hours and Leeds to Frankfurt in five-and-a half hours.

It differs from previous options in the way it aims to connect more UK cities and ensures Heathrow is fully joined up to the new network.

2M Group leaders at today's launch said ministers' obsession with building more airport runways made them look increasingly out of touch with modern transport needs.

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