Adonis in all-party talks on high-speed rail link

Journey from London to Scotland will be 45 minutes quicker

The new high-speed rail line will guarantee shorter journey times to Scotland from day one of the service, the Transport Secretary has promised.

The first phase of the high-speed line will stretch only as far as the Midlands. But in an interview with The Independent, Lord Adonis pledged that trains would be specially designed to run on the existing rail network. Travellers heading to and from Scotland will not have to change trains if they take a high-speed service and will benefit from time savings of around 45 minutes as soon as the new line opens.

"I believe that if we can slash the journey time between Scotland and London then this will cement the political union between the two nations," Lord Adonis said. "There will be high-speed services to Scotland from the outset. A key principle of the project is that the trains should be able to run on the existing network and the high-speed network, as happens in France.

"It means Scotland would get the benefit of the trains from day one of high-speed rail, however long it takes to build the line to Scotland."

Senior party figures believe that using the line to strengthen the symbolic bond between England and Scotland will give Labour a unique selling point for the project. Both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats have their own plans for a high-speed line. However, Lord Adonis also revealed that he has already held talks with his political rivals in an effort to forge a cross-party agreement for a high-speed line before the next election.

He is negotiating an agreement to see all three parties go into the election with a similar plan in an attempt to convince the public that the project, one of the biggest infrastructure developments ever undertaken in Britain, will go ahead.

As part of the deal, he is sharing the 1,000 pages of detailed research carried out by the High Speed Two firm with the other political parties. He said he would not reach any final decisions before consulting them: "I will be engaging the other political parties to see if we can reach agreement on the main components. I do not want to pre-judge those discussions."

Lord Adonis again rebuffed suggestions that he would accept a job under the Tories if they offered him the chance to press ahead with the project. But the move illustrates his desire to see his vision for a high-speed network completed even if his party loses power. He said that he wanted to place the new line "above politics".

"All three political parties should go into the next election with similar commitments on high-speed rail so it becomes a national project," he said. "My aim is to forge the broadest possible political consensus, both between the political parties, central government and local government, and between the British and Scottish governments."

The Tories are treating his approach with caution. "We are happy to discuss the future of high-speed rail with Lord Adonis and with High Speed Two, but there are still fundamental differences between our firm plans and Labour's assertions," said Theresa Villiers, shadow Transport Secretary. "There will continue to be important political dividing lines on the future of high-speed rail in this country."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible