High speed rail: Patrick McLoughlin to reveal new routes

Patrick McLoughlin Patrick McLoughlin says he will announce new high speed rail routes in the new year

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Patrick McLoughlin is a cabinet minister who doesn't quite fit the mould.

He's the only senior Tory to have worked at the coalface. He's also a former aviation minister, who candidly admitted he didn't like flying. And he's probably the only secretary of state in this coalition government with a ready smile on his face.

Maybe that's because the Derbyshire Dales MP can't quite believe his political luck.

After years in the political shadows of the Conservatives' whips office, David Cameron appointed his chief whip as transport secretary in the summer reshuffle.

Patrick McLoughlin hasn't looked back. The Department for Transport these days is not political backwater.

Start Quote

There is huge investment planned for the rail industry in this country”

End Quote Patrick McLoughlin MP Transport Secretary

"There's a lot going on. An awful lot," he told me.

His in-tray includes the row over the West Coast rail contract, which rattled Sir Richard Branson; the high speed rail project - HS2 - which has infuriated many Home Counties Tories; and whether to expand Heathrow airport, and upset Boris Johnson.

And there's the issue of Bombardier, the UK's last remaining train maker.

As a Derbyshire MP, he was fully aware of the local concerns when a multi-million contract for new trains for Thameslink went to Siemens of Germany. Half the workforce at Bombardier's Derby factory was axed as a result of that "lost" contract.

"The Thameslink contract was first put out in 2008 and here we are towards the end of 2012. There's been a lot of slippage on it," he said.

"So I'm determined to make sure we are much more open with such contracts in future, and that the bidding process is more open."

High-speed rail link map

So is there a future for British train making?

"Oh yes. We've got the Hitachi plant in the North East, which is going to employ 700. Bombardier got an order the other week from Southern. There is huge investment planned for the rail industry in this country." he added.

He talked with relish about a renaissance for the railways.

There'll be many children hoping for a railway set this Christmas. If Patrick McLoughlin missed out as a child, sets don't come much bigger than HS2 to get your hands on.

Soon after the Twelfth Day of Christmas, he'll be announcing the route of the next phases of the high speed route from Birmingham through the East Midlands to Leeds.

"HS2 is a very exciting project for the East Midlands," he told me.

"I'll be announcing early in the New Year, where the line will go from Birmingham to Leeds and from Birmingham to Manchester. And I think for the East Midlands - for Derby and Nottingham, and Leicestershire- it is a very, very important development."

"It's not just about the fastest journey time to London, it's about infrastructure investment. It's also about increasing capacity.

"HS2 will be the first new railway north of London in a hundred years. You see high speed trains across the whole of Europe and they are making a huge difference. They'll make a huge difference to us when HS2 is completed."

The location of the HS2 station in the East Midlands will also be revealed. There's been speculation of a rail hub near East Midland Airport or Toton Sidings between Nottingham and Derby.

Start Quote

HS2 is a very exciting project for the East Midlands”

End Quote Patrick McLoughlin MP Transport Secretary

The transport secretary wasn't going to confirm and deny the rumour mill. That'll have to wait until his New Year announcement. But it does rule out speculation that the East Midlands might not have a HS2 station at all.

He did confirm that completing electrification of the Midland Main Line, often regarded as the rail network's Cinderella line, is definitely going ahead.

"That's going to take place between 2014 and 2019. It'll mean better and lighter trains, and a faster service to and from St Pancras," said the transport secretary..

Carrying the red cabinet boxes as secretary of state is a long way removed from carrying coal when he worked underground at Littleton Colliery near Cannock.

He first came to national attention when he spoke at the Tories' annual conference in 1984, in support of working miners who defied Arthur Scargill's NUM strike.

After that, it was straight up the political escalator; and in 1986, he won the West Derbyshire by-election. He was soon in government .

But what of that comment, when he was aviation minister, that he didn't like to fly.

"At the time, I was a nervous flyer. Let's put it that way," he told me.

"I'm a little less nervous about it now."

For this cabinet minister, that added confidence could easily apply to running a high profile government department. His political career is taking off.

John Hess, Political editor, East Midlands Article written by John Hess John Hess Political editor, East Midlands

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  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    all you need is eastcoast 4 track all the way to edinburgh reopen the greatcentral london st pancres via nottingham straight up to the waverley route up grade the westcoast to four tracks allowing nonstop london/glasgow/edinburgh.The 5.40 edinburgh arrives kx 9.40 one stop newcastle show you can do it under 4 hours .No need for the line to birmingham.Think and save time and money

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Railways really need investment directed towards electrification, capacity and providing longer /more trains (passengers should be able to sit).

    There are many towns in the UK that need to be rail connected and these should be a priority over higher speeds on existing routes.

    However, until railways become vertically integrated and the franchising model abolished change will remain difficult.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    If HS2 is needed then Birmingham should be a 'through' station in tunnels right under the city centre. Furthermore the route should be built in one go through to Liverpool and Manchester.

    Alternatively the money could be used to radically upgrade existing rail-routes and reopen those when a genuine need exists but nobody is willing to stump up the cash.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    History is of value (see the BBC /Gove article today on school Hist).Never has a govt project come in on budget; Olympics/NHS IT you name they flunked it up. No-one actually wants to get to B'ham faster - they want on time, seats and value. These projects will only work when irrevocably tied to the politicians, engineer’s and rail directors pension funds. Put your money where your mouth is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    HS2 is old technology. A waste of tax payers money. We need the Siemens developed Maglev. We can then avoid the need to carve up the landscape with old style train tracks and build a single route from London to Scotland cennecting all major conurbations in central and northern England. See http://www.500kmh.com/ for more information and lobby your MP now before we make another monumental mistake.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Please make sure the new line is not routed through flood plains

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I'm in favour of HS2, but that's still years away. In the meantime somethings needs to be done to improve existing rail services because things are actually getting worse. In the new timetable that starts today, the train I catch to work in Birmingham every morning has been reduced from 3 to 2 coaches, meaning I can't get a seat and have to stand for 35 minutes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    John, HSR isn't old school, it's really starting to take off in many countries. Maglev is still unproven on any major scale. China only has one line and that links a city to an airport. They're having doubts over whether to build it on any serious scale. Germany, who own the technology have yet to build a route. Cancelling proposed lines from Hamburg to Berlin and from Munich to Munich airport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    It is all about connecting the big cities, with smaller communities missing out.

    For example, in today's other news, the town that builds the Astute submarines will get fewer through trains in 2014. So the cost of this "progress" is more traffic clogging up the narrow Lakeland roads!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Better than building more roads and generating more vehicular traffic, fatties, and poor air quality in our cities.
    Stop people larding up like the Americans and get them walking to public transport, cycling and using Shanks's poney.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    5. Gerob
    I already travelled on HS1 to Ramsgate. It cost £16 return. Is that expensive? I think not.

    Please let us know what ticket that was as the cheapest return from Faversham to St Pancras on HS1 is £29 and that's 20 minutes closer to London than Ramsgate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Echoing other comments, just get on and build it now! This would be a huge boost to the rail construction and manufacturing industry. More important though would be the legacy to the country of sustainable high speed travel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    The trains can go as fast as they like... won't do much good for the economy if nobody can afford to ride them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Why are there no direct lines from here to there. All routes mean I go miles out of my way to catch a train that is going somewhere other than London. Unless Beeching is undone with modern trains it wont ever be a renaissance. Re birth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Gerob. Virgin from Birmingham to London Euston is in excess of £150 off peak return. Obviously less if I can plan in advance but htis is never the case

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    The WCML is the wrong side to build a new HSR.
    They need to space out the airport hubs in order to distribute capacity and build some resilience to weather disruption into the system.
    Upgrade Stansted to 2 long runways, build new 2 runway airport at Ashford connect to HS1.
    HSR to run up East Coast to Scotland via Stansted, build spurs westward to reach West Midlands, Manchester etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Excellent ides Mr. McLoughlin, problem is the average tenure of a Transport Minister in UK government of any hue is less than 2 years - which probably goes some way to explaining why transport infrastructure such such a disjointed mess here!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    The opening few paragraphs, and pretty much the rest of the article, are a blatant selling of Mr McLoughlin to the reader.

    Do Mr Hess and Mr McLoughlin dine regularly together?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    "I can't afford to travel to London by Virgin and so I doubt I'll be able to afford HS2. So I find it hard to get motivated by this."

    I already travelled on HS1 to Ramsgate. It cost £16 return. Is that expensive? I think not.

    What is never mentioned are the long closed stations that will be able to re-open on the West Coast Line, once the long distance travellers decant to HS2.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    12 Minutes ago
    HS2 is already old school, steel wheels on steel track is 1800s technology. Maglev is the future, speed and environmental impact are far better. Even China has modern Maglev trains.


    After a load of research they came up with a new profile for the wheel tread surface = the shape that the wheels wore themselves down to.


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