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Emissions questions dog high speed rail

Network Rail’s £34bn plan for a high speed line between London and Scotland has been attacked for not doing enough to provide an alternative to domestic flights.

Network Rail’s plan, launched last week, is primarily aimed at solving impending capacity problems on the West Coast Main Line (News last week).

But the rail operator also claimed that the route, if built, would cut 20,000 domestic flights a year − reducing CO2 emissions by almost 250,000t.

Environmental lobbyist 2M Group challenged the plan for failing to seriously address emissions from domestic flights.

“Can we build a high speed network which will eliminate the need for domestic flights, and will this new network itself be capable of meeting the highest environmental standards?”

Edward Lister, 2M Group

The group − which represents 24 London, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire councils opposing expansion of Heathrow airport − has developed its own scheme. The 2M project is claimed to put all principal cities in mainland UK within four hours of central London and could cut 58,000 domestic and short-haul European flights a year.

Its High Speed North route, follows the M1, passing through key airports at Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow before terminating in Aberdeen.

“There are two key environmental questions for any government: can we build a high speed network which will eliminate the need for domestic flights and will this new network itself be capable of meeting the highest environmental standards?,” said Wandsworth Council leader and 2M Group representative Edward Lister. “The value for money tests are equally critical,” he added.

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