Heathrow rail link a 'cynical ploy'

Suggestions from a government minister that a high-speed rail link may be built alongside a third runway at Heathrow were described last night as a "cynical ploy".

The Transport minister Lord Adonis said at the weekend that an international rail interchange could be built at Heathrow, in compensation for the environmental damage a new runway would cause. He was taking over an idea produced by the Conservatives, who said that they would build a new high-speed rail line to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds instead of the third runway – thus obviating the need for more short-haul flights to provincial cities. The "Heathrow Hub", costing £4.5bn, would extend the high-speed rail network from the Channel Tunnel line at St Pancras station into the rest of Britain.

John Stewart, of the campaign group Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise, said the Government was "in disarray" about the project. "They never talked about a rail link until the Tories brought it up," he added. "To add it on at the last minute is just a cynical ploy."

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