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Posts Tagged ‘HS2’

Further to my earlier post, here are two statements issued by the Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan following the Transport Secretary’s announcement of the go ahead for a high speed rail line between London and Birmingham.

On the possibility of her resigning that I mentioned in the earlier post, her spokesman has reiterated that, while she’s disappointed, that there’s a long way to go yet in terms of consultation.

When it comes to electrification of the line to South Wales, well read her statement for yourself.

The first is issued by the Wales Office, the second is in her capacity as MP for Chesham and Amersham.

Statement 1

Commenting on today’s announcement of the preferred route for a new high speed rail line from London to Birmingham and the north of England, Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan MP said:
“I have already written to both the Prime Minister and Transport Secretary underlining the importance of electrifying the Great Western main line from London to south Wales given the Government’s commitment to developing a high speed route north of London.

“I will continue to press the case for electrification with Cabinet colleagues and remind them that Welsh economic interests and transport infrastructure risk being left behind if the project does not go ahead.”

Statement 2

I welcome the announcement today which now finally clarifies the position but naturally I am disappointed that a decision has been taken to confirm Route 3, which passes through the heart of Chesham and Amersham, as the “preferred” route for consideration during the forthcoming consultation on HS2. I understand around 50% of the “preferred” route has been amended from the original proposals. I will study these in detail particularly as this “preferred” route is not yet the final route.

To date I have made numerous personal representations and representations on behalf of constituents who are opposed to this route. In addition to my own submission to the consultation next year, I will also ensure that all constituents’ views are fed into the process. Attendance at the road-shows to be held in the constituency will be vital.

The Secretary of State for Transport has confirmed that the consultation will cover a) alternative route corridors, b) the overall strategic case and c) the detail of the line of route and that his department will be approaching this with an open mind.

We now need to respond to the consultation in such a way that we have the best chance of protecting our environment in Chesham and Amersham.

I have written today to key campaigners in Chesham and Amersham inviting them to a meeting at the start of the New Year so that I can ensure that I am able to make the strongest possible case on behalf of the constituency.

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It’s worth keeping an eye on an announcement expected later by the UK Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond about plans for a new high speed rail line from London to Birmingham.

Although the project is one that would create a new line in England, today’s announcement is likely to affect Welsh politics in two ways.

Firstly, it’s one of the big projects put forward by the previous Labour government which the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has been reviewing.

Another is the planned electrification of the line from Swansea to Paddington – the very line I’m on as I write this. (That’s my excuse for any spelling or typing errors.)

A decision on that is not expected until the new year and the government’s opponents fear it’s about to be shelved or reduced in scope so that, say, only part of the line is electrified.

On the other hand the government says it’s all still to play for although the costs have to be looked at more closely.

You can see that the expected decision to go ahead with the London to Birmingham scheme will only highlight the uncertainty over the London to Swansea plan, something that Labour and Plaid Cymru will continue to draw attention to.

But the other impact to watch for is on the Welsh Secretary herself.

Her Buckinghamshire constituency is one of a series of Conservative areas through which the new line would be laid.

She has said that she would vote against her government if it sticks to the current proposed route. As a cabinet minister that would mean she would have to resign.

The Transport Secretary says he’s listened to and acted on the concerns of colleagues like Mrs Gillan. We should find out later if he’s done enough to win her over.

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