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High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:25 pm on 26th June 2013.

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Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng Conservative, Spelthorne 5:25 pm, 26th June 2013

I am not sure which citizens of that famous French city my hon. Friend has been speaking to, but the ones we met were very enthusiastic, as were people in other cities. Lille, for example, has been transformed by the high-speed rail—of course it has, and that is a good thing. No one in France is suggesting that the high-speed rail network should be closed down and the country should go back to what it had before.

There are clear economic benefits. My hon. Friend Mr Binley suggested that freight transport is growing at 10% a year. How on earth can that growth in freight be accommodated without substantial investment in our railway infrastructure and without building a high-speed rail network? As my hon. Friend Iain Stewart said, simply building another line that is not a high-speed line will cost just as much and not give the benefits, and no one is suggesting that as an alternative.