BAA and British Airways have attacked plans by the Conservatives to build TGV style railway linking Britain’s main cities, instead of building a third Heathrow runway, should they win power.Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers delighted environment and residents’ campaign groups for a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. However BAA has warned that blocking the runway could damage London.
A spokesman said: “It is disappointing if the Conservatives are now saying they would turn their back on jobs and wealth creation, and put the UK’s air links in a straitjacket.”
Heathrow owner BAA accused the Conservatives of overestimating fivefold the short-haul flights that could be replaced by a TGV-style rail service. A spokesman said: “To prioritise one over the other is a false choice and will put Britain’s future competitiveness at risk.”
Ms Villiers said her party had made a “seriously green decision” to “say No to a third runway”. She urged businesses to think “very carefully” before getting involved in expanding Heathrow as a Conservative administration would not be bound to honour the Government’s undertakings.
Under the first phase of the plans, the 190mph trains would offer services from London St Pancras to Birmingham (45mins), Manchester (80mins), and Leeds (97mins), plus a spur link to Heathrow.
The £20 billion project would open in 2027, possibly earlier for some stretches, and would need £15.7 billion of taxpayers’ money, with the rest coming from the train operator.