MP endorses national high speed rail project

September 24, 2008 1:30 PM

Ambitious plans for a national high speed rail network to be rolled out over the next 15 years have won the support of Cambridge MP David Howarth.

He endorsed the Liberal Democrats' project - which could be paid for by a national road pricing scheme for lorries and a domestic aviation duty surcharge - at the party's autumn conference.

The plan, "Fast Track Britain: Building a Transport System for the 21st Century", includes a commitment to fully electrify the rail network by 2050 and introducing a rolling programme of rail expansion schemes in local areas including opening new lines.

There are also proposals to introduce a Rural Transport Access Fund to support innovation in all forms of local transport.

The plans will be put before delegates at the Bournemouth conference on Tuesday, September 15 by Norman Baker, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr Howarth said: "Transport is at the centre of Cambridge's problems. Overall, Cambridge's public transport system is still that of a small market town rather than of a growth point in the new economy.

"We need major investment in infrastructure, but the system of local government finance means that we are unlikely to get it.

"The nationalisation of business rates and the obsession with centralised bidding for capital funding, mean that we have to beg central Government for infrastructure funds - funds that the Government seem inclined to allocate elsewhere."

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