High-speed Rail

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:54 am on 8th December 2009.

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Photo of Eric Martlew Eric Martlew Labour, Carlisle 11:54 am, 8th December 2009

I take it that the hon. Gentleman's party would scrap Trident to build the high-speed line. I am very interested in that because I represent Carlisle, which is on the Scottish border.

High-speed lines work. They work on the continent and High Speed 1 works. However, we must drive down the costs of high-speed lines. There is a very good line from St. Pancras to the channel tunnel, but it is the most expensive high-speed line in the world. We must reduce the costs and make savings. When the policy is decided on, it must be stuck to.

I chaired a meeting of the all-party rail group last night. An hon. Member who is not present said that he would sooner have no high-speed line than one that did not go to Yorkshire. That is the sort of planning and bigotry that has held back the railways in this country for so long. We need a high-speed line, we have to give it some thought, we must get the money to do it and we must do it as cheaply as possible, but in the meantime, we must not forget the lines that we have. I say to the people on the east coast, the upgrade of the east coast main line and the electrification of the midland main line should be their first priorities.

[Mr. Joe Benton in the Chair]