The Conservatives have attacked Labour’s plan for Britain’s £30bn high speed rail network, claiming the route is fl awed and that it will take too long to start work.
“Let me make it clear that we are not prepared blindly to accept the route that Labour proposes, and let me also say that when it comes to Heathrow, Labour still does not get it,” Villiers said following the report’s launch last Thursday.
Villiers warned that the Conservatives would review the scheme, if they win the next General Election.
Transport secretary Lord Adonis said such a review would create an 18 month setback.
Villiers conceded that the Tories “welcomed” transport secretary Lord Adonis’s decision to instruct former transport secretary Lord Mawhinney to look again at adding a station to serve Heathrow airport.
A political battleground
Cross-party consensus on a new UK high speed network broke down last month when Villiers publicly refused to preview the government’s High Speed 2 (HS2) investigating company report on the best route. The report was submitted to Adonis in December last year.
Villiers slammed the remit given to HS2 by Adonis for its lack of ambition in focusing only on the West Midlands in the first stage as well as its plans for a London interchange station instead of a direct stop at Heathrow.
She also attacked Labour’s timescales for the project, claiming that the Conservatives would start work as early as 2015.
Adonis proposes that construction would kick off immediately after Crossrail’s completion in 2017 with the first trains running on the route by 2026.
Adonis said he would create a single hybrid bill for the scheme − with one bill meaning it would be seen as one project.
The Conservatives said they would opt for between one and three bills, breaking up the route into separate projects.