We need an integrated national aviation and high speed rail strategy

The title of this post says it all really.  We are pressing ahead with building a national high speed rail network (see my post from yesterday) while at the same time the Government’s aviation policy is a true omnishambles.  The Transport Secretary herself said aviation policy needs to look to the long term, like high speed rail policy!

The point is, these 2 elements of national transport policy are fundamentally interlinked:

– we want to cut all domestic air travel by having a national high speed rail network

– we want to integrate air and high speed rail tickets so that you fly into 1 airport and can transfer to another, or another city, using high speed rail

– HS2 will have stations at Birmingham, East Midlands, Manchester and Heathrow airports

– we want to integrate the developing high speed rail network in with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link to bring Paris, Lille, Brussels and Amsterdam into our national high speed rail network

The point is that (as I keep on saying) the Government needs to develop a long term vision of what it wants to achieve with transport policy and then set out a long term strategy of how to get there.  We need to recognise and accept the use and value of transport in the facilitating role it plays in a number of other key policy areas such as business, skills, education and health.

I have also recently in other blog posts set out the case for building a new Birmingham Airport to be an additional international hub airport alongside Heathrow.  If we have a hub closer to the rest of the British population a huge amount of capacity is released as people won’t be going into Heathrow to transfer; we also bring the planes closer to the people to reduce emissions on surface access to/from the airport.

Then we go further and fully integrate the tickets for flying and high speed rail.  For example, I want to go from Canary Wharf to New York – i can take Crossrail to Old Oak Common then transfer onto HS2 to Birmingham Interchange and with the same ticket jump on the plane from Birmingham to New York.  I can choose the HS2-Birmingham-New York ticket over the Heathrow-New York ticket by having the ability to directly compare price and journey time.

This is what transport is meant to be about – making all of our lives easier and facilitating what we want and need to do.

So I urge the Government and the Shadow Transport Team to only talk about aviation with high speed rail – because the solution to the vexed capacity/Heathrow question can be solved using high speed rail and some lateral thinking, and it is a lot easier than you might think!!

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