PLANS FOR a high-speed rail link between London and Edinburgh were this week rejected by transport secretary Alistair Darling as unnecessary and unrealistically costed.
'If Crossrail is going to cost £10bn, how can a line from London to Edinburgh can be delivered for £20-30bn? It is ridiculous, ' said Darling, speaking ahead of the launch of the transport White Paper.
Improved journey times from upgrades of the East and West Coast Main Lines would, he added, be sufficient to compete with air travel.
But the ICE condemned Darling's decision and said that government remained too focussed on fare box revenue to understand the social, environmental and economic benefits for high-speed rail.
'Improvements to the WCML will only effect London to Manchester routes and not compete with air travel between, say Glasgow and the south, ' said ICE transport board member Graeme Monteith.
He added that the scope of the ECML and WCML projects had reduced so much that they were no competitors to air travel.
'It comes as no surprise that plans for a high speed rail link have been scrapped - but a new rail link could have removed the need for an extra airport runway, ' he added.
Politicians, he said, were trapped into thinking that new railways could only be built if expected revenues were favourable, instead of looking at the wider benefits.