Arup chairman Philip Dilley this week renewed calls for public investment in high speed rail while urging the Conservatives not to scrap plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport.
Dilley said politicians should back the most appropriate transport infrastructure solutions rather than identifying rail routes or airport solutions in isolation.
“We need transport solutions, not airport or rail solutions,” he said. “Let’s look at the whole transport system for the UK.” Dilley said that the Conservatives’ pledge to scrap plans for a third runway at Heathrow was disappointing and unnecessary.
“Why be so black and white about this? There needs to be a review.”
Philip Dilley, Arup
“Certainly they [the Conservatives] need to act responsibly and to balance the needs of the country with the economy. But why be so black and white about this?” he said. “There needs to be a review.”
Arup has already ploughed several million pounds into the development of its so-called “Heathrow Hub” − a north-south high speed rail route and transport interchange at the airport. This option is believed to be under consideration as part of the government-backed High Speed 2 (HS2) rail investigation but was not considered as part of Network Rail’s published plans for a high speed route (NCE 3 September).
Political and technical debates
However, Dilley said he was confident that the Heathrow Hub proposal stacked up and would eventually emerge as a serious contender as it met many of both Labour and Tory transport objectives. HS2’s preliminary investigation report will be passed to transport secretary Lord Adonis in December. This is likely to trigger a fresh round of political and technical debates over routes leading to a preferred route option.
Dilley warned that the General Election would inevitably cause a short delay of three of four months but said: “The money will clearly be tough to find but I’ll be surprised if high speed rail doesn’t have a future.”