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Thursday, 26 January 2012

High Speed 2 will deliver long term success

As an Ealing Liberal Democrat I do not feel the need to support everything the Coalition Government wants. But when it comes to the Government’s responses to High Speed 2 (HS2), Crossrail, and to stopping Heathrow expansion, we are in favour.

In fact nationally all three major parties are in favour of High Speed 2.

I see the Ealing Conservative Leader recently admitted it was “progress”. He is sitting on the fence trying to be in favour of High Speed 2 as well as acknowledging some local difficulties, using only flowery language.

What is clear, is that in the short term of the build of High Speed 2, there will be some residents who will suffer. But the government has listened and gone some way in mitigating these issues. High Speed 2 in many ways is a judgement call – do you want investment in our transport system, or not?

In making a decision it is crucial to look at the transport need now and in the future and the benefits that High Speed 2 offer which will be a much faster and reliable journey.

Other countries in Europe took decisions decades ago to improve their train network so that commuters or tourists can travel across countries quickly, often with choices of how to get to their destination. The UK is often left behind.

Modern railway causes less pollution than travelling by air.

Whether it is sustainable energy generation or transport, the UK has tended to follow and not lead the way. High Speed 2 will complement Crossrail and we should see great improvements in London as well as links to other parts of the UK which will help support jobs – something we all want.

My group, the Ealing Liberal Democrats, want to see journey times reduced, want to see congestion on transport modes reduced and we want to see an improved reliability. High Speed 2 does this. Locally, we should welcome the fact that improving the rail infrastructure will reduce the need for short haul flights and the pressure for a third runway at Heathrow. Furthermore, High Speed 2 will bring much needed regeneration around Old Oak Common.

Only the Liberal Democrats have assessed the benefits and costs of large transport initiatives. Clearly High Speed 2 will bring us many benefits that this country need. This huge investment will yield lots of jobs in the decades to come.

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