I knew exactly how long that journey took, because I looked at train times during my hon. Friend’s by-election campaign and thought that it was a very slow journey. HS2 will be transformational, because it will bring Manchester and London very close together. It will also create a modal shift away from aeroplanes. For any journey that takes about three and a half hours, passengers will be taken out of aeroplanes and on to high-speed rail. That is obviously of benefit and will help us to meet our climate change emissions targets.
High-speed rail offers some of the lowest carbon emissions per passenger kilometre. The emissions are significantly lower than those from cars and planes. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a green spine that links our great cities and to open up wildlife corridors. I was inspired by the Wildlife Trusts’ vision for Low Speed 2, which is a green network of cycleways and footpaths along the line that would connect communities with nature and each other. We must learn from and build on the excellent biodiversity work that has been done by Crossrail. It has worked with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and others to create new habitats for bird life at Wallasea island, using spoil from Crossrail’s tunnelling that was carried down the Thames on barges.