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Unlike Mandelson we can’t all hop on a private jet – Baker

July 3, 2013 4:34 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Responding to Peter Mandelson's comments on high speed rail, Liberal Democrat Transport Minister, Norman Baker said:

"Thankfully, since Blair and Brown are gone the country no longer has to do whatever Peter Mandelson says. And given the fiasco of the Millennium Dome, for which he had personal responsibility, I hardly think he is the best person to offer advice on large projects anyway.

"The Liberal Democrats were the first party to champion high speed rail, the Conservatives got on board and it was Labour's Andrew Adonis who got it started. There is a genuine cross-party consensus.

"It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs; be a major boost to our economy, especially in the North of England; and will help us shift to the clean, green economy of the future.

"More and more people are using the rail network every year so we desperately need more North-South capacity - unlike Peter Mandelson we can't all hop on a private jet."

The Facts:

Facts about High Speed 2 (HS2):

  • HS2 will create and support at least 100,000 jobs and will support a further 400,000.
  • It is projected to add £4bn to the economy before it is completed, and around £50bn once complete.
  • Liberal Democrats are transforming our national rail network providing a national infrastructure that delivers for every part of the country - not just South-East England. HS2 will reduce journey times, transfer more journeys to rail and boost opportunities for jobs and growth.
  • Our transport links between the North and South are in desperate need of improvement. By shifting millions of road and air travel journeys to rail, HS2 will help to ease road congestion, reduce some of the pressure on our airports, and enhance connectivity between North and South.
  • HS2 is a key part of the Liberal Democrat priority of moving towards a low carbon economy. Once complete, HS2 will transfer approximately 9m journeys from road to rail and 4.5m from air to rail.
  • By shortening train times, HS2 will also make investment and economic interest in regions outside of London and the South-East more attractive. This is vital if we are to help rebalance the UK economy.
  • Other European countries, such as France, Germany and Spain, have already invested in high speed rail, and have several rail connections which are much faster than ours. The UK is in danger of falling behind unless we make plans to meet future demand, ease capacity and cut down on train times for millions of passengers.
  • Once completed, HS2 will allow trains to travel at more than 200mph and reduce journey times between London and key cities in the north and in Scotland. It also means that the whole country will be better connected with the rest of Europe.
  • HS2's £42.6bn budget includes a large £14.4bn contingency fund across the scheme. The Olympics also had a large contingency built in and came in under budget - we believe this is a responsible way to operate.