Conservatives want to substitute railway instead of third runway at Heathrow

by Stephanus Surjaputra on September 30, 2008

Last week we told you how the London Mayor wants to close Heathrow and build a new airport. Now it seems that the Conservative party wants to scrap the proposed third runway and create a TGV-style rail line between London and northern England.

Conservative transport spokeswoman Theresa Villiers, speaking to a party conference in Birmingham, said that the new railway, at a cost of £20 billion ($36 billion), would provide an alternative to short haul flights “without the environmental penalties of a third runway.” Additionally, the new high-speed rail line would “add £60 billion ($108 billion) to Britain’s economy, and boost transport links between the north of the country and the south.”

The Confederation of British Industries (CBI), however, feels that, while the development of high-speed rail is a good idea, it won’t solve capacity problems at Heathrow.

Outgoing Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly noted that there was a need to expand both Heathrow and the railway system. Her position is also supported by BAA, which owns and operates Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and several other airports.

The Conservatives’ plan for a railway would “link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, as well as connecting to the Eurostar service to Paris — itself made faster last year.”

The Conservative government proposal would pour £15.6 billion ($28 billion) into the project, with the remaining £4.4 billion ($8 billion) coming from the private sector.

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