Labour to promise high-speed rail link in election manifesto

PM sees chance to be the 'party of action' with precise route and costs for new line

A multi-billion pound pledge to build a high-speed rail link is set to be included as a key measure in Labour's manifesto for the next election, The Independent has been told.

All the political parties have pledged support for some kind of high-speed rail network for Britain. But senior Government figures believe that by presenting the electorate with a timetable, costs and a precise route for a new line, they can become the "party of action".

Work looks likely to begin on a new high-speed track between London and Birmingham in 2017, with the first trains running on the line by 2025. The Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis, is also keen to firm up a wider commitment to extend the track to Scotland, which could almost halve journey times between London and Glasgow.

The costs involved in constructing the line, which will involve a new station in Birmingham, are enormous. The Independent understands that Lord Adonis has been warned that Network Rail's £34bn calculation for a London to Scotland line was "a bit light". However, officials believe it can be afforded as costs would be spread over several years.

The Government has set up a company, High Speed Two (HS2), headed by Sir David Rowlands, which will provide a detailed plan of a potential London to Birmingham route by the end of the year. "We're talking down to the back gardens that will be affected," said a source close to the company.

Its highly sensitive findings will not be published before the Department for Transport has prepared its response. Officials fear that doing so would provoke legal action from people living in areas mentioned in the report. Lord Adonis will wait until February or March to publish his final policy decision. His conclusions will then be included as a manifesto pledge for Labour's election battle.

Stephen Joseph, the executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport, said that the pledge must not be made at the expense of improvements on the existing rail network. "It is crucial for us to see what else is in the Government's package for transport," he said. "We would also like to see if it will come with a decision to back down over building a third runway at Heathrow."

Sources close to HS2 said a strong business case had emerged for building another new parkway station in the West Midlands, but that any political pressure to include more stations along the route would severely damage the time-saving advantages provided by the high-speed services. Every new station would mean an extra 10 minutes on journey times.

Gordon Brown will lend his support to the high-speed rail plans during his speech to the CBI conference today. "We could achieve a European network of train services that takes us quickly not just to Paris and Brussels but quickly to Cologne and to Amsterdam. And one that starts not just in London but in the north of our country," he is expected to say.

The Government will frame its commitment to high-speed rail as part of its battle to reduce domestic flights and carbon emissions.

"The decision we take in the New Year will be the most important transport policy decision before the next election. With the right plan, the right resources and the right commitment we could have the first part of the north-south high speed line open and carrying passengers within 10 to fifteen years."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Technical Manager – Heat Pumps

£40000 Per Annum dependent on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: They ...

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis