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.

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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.

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

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  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    As a daily commuter I would recommend strongly that the obvious deterioration in the rail service should be halted.
    Continuous price rises have only been matched by continuous failures for the most ridiculous reasons - it rains, the trains stop! Its cold - the trains stop! People steal cable - the trains stop! Its hot, the trains stop! Need I go on?

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    This appointment is typical of Flashman's "tokenism" agenda, trying to detoxify his Party, and make out he has a "pleb" in the Cabinet. This guy seems totally out of his depth, and ill equipped to make key decisions with relevant experience. Performance on recent Question Time showed him having little grasp of intellectual debate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    To be economic, HS2 needs to start at Glasgow and Edinburgh, because that is where rivalry to airlines is significant. Construction should begin at a number of points along the route. Southwards from Glasgow and Edinburgh, north and south from Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham (and possibly westwards towards Wales), and north from London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    @39. Dandalf
    "We need a Stelios on the rails!"

    A Stelios? Perhaps, a "what's his name" of Ryan Air, definitely not. Train tickets, £2. Want to take a bag on with you, £47. Want to have a seat, another £45. Forget to check you and your bag in on-line before hand - that will be £230. Take your own refreshments with you - another £57.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The aviation industry experienced its recent growth spurt not because of concord but because the budget airlines brought down the cost for passengers.
    HS2 might be a fantastic piece of engineering but its not going to help the industry.
    We need a Stelios on the rails!

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    If the money to be spent on this vanity project was spent on improving the existing network, and restoring some of the closed lines - like the Great Central freight lines, Woodhead tunnel and so on, and improving or avoiding the Welywn viaduct, it would be much better for the majority of train travellers in this country, rather than the elite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

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

    It may be that there is a Bombardier factory in Britain but to say its UK's last remaining train maker when it is Canadian owned is misleading.
    As for Hitachi we all know that is Japanese. So the truth is Britain does not have an indigenous train maker left because they have all been sold off closed down or gone bust.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    19.Mark White
    HS2 is part of the EU wide TENS network. This enables through running and compatability throughout Europe and now other non EU countries are building HS lines to the same standards. Using Maglev in the UK would mean you would have to change trains to travel abroard. Not very practicable and it's no good for container traffic as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    For the sake of our country we really do need to relax the process of implementation around high speed rail. At an econmic time when the goverment needs a capital investment programme to get the economy moving, here it is, Get on with it now

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    90% of this country dont give a damn about shaving 10 minutes off a train journey and are quite happy with 100mph what they require are more trains with more seating. HS2 will not make one bit of difference to the majority of people in this country , and like HS1 will just increase already high fares for the honour of riding on it.

    The figures will be massaged to convince the press no doubt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Could do with some investment in the North on rail. Growth in Immingham as a port definately needs another line south maybe the old East Lincs line through Louth could be reinstated. Government could look at things like that aswell as high speed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    if the hs2 was actually going to be affordable for the masses not just the elite minority then the expense might be worth it but normal rail is already too expensive so increasing the unfair financial burden on those who will not be using it is just another form of TAX on the poor

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Whilst this Government seems to be overburdened with a less than competent cabinet it is good to see the likes of McLoughlin and Foreign Secretary Hague proving all generalizations are false. Shame he wasn't in Thatcher's government to stop the railways getting to where thye are now. Who knows the British APT-E could be the model of excellence rather than Japan or France? Well done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    £32 billion on HS2 £55 billion on Trident renewal, billions in tax avoidance by multinationals. I say scrap these projects and pay off the deficit, by insisting that the multinationals pay tax like the rest of us Osbourne can stop telling us that we are nearly bankrupt, and start believing we are all in this together. Scrap HS2 its a white elephant

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    What happened to the impartial stance that the BBC should offer to the license payer. This is not a report, its a piece of PR designed to promote Patrick McLoughlin and proposed infrastructure projects affecting the East Midlands, in particular the HS2.
    Branson uncovered a shambolic DFT debacle, and exposed the waste by them of tens of millions of taxpayers money!

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    In 1827,the Rainhill Trials were held.In Lancashire in the NORTH WEST of England.
    After that competition,steam travel became the norm,a revolution which changed the world.
    After the Trials,within 25YEARS Britain had a rail network all across Great Britain..not just to Birmingham!
    It will probably take more than 25 years to get PLANNING PERMISSION to Birmingham for HS2. Progress??
    Keep up Britain!

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Why spend £32bn on HS2? Aren't we in the digital age where the Govt wants Digital by Default? If so, wouldn't that £32bn be better spent on providing a 21st century broadband infrastructure that would negate the need for so much travel? The UK's digital infrastructure is more important than a re-implementation of a 19th century infrastructure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The only way to solve the transport problems in UK is to regenerate more self sustaining regional economic areas with improved local travel within thus avoiding the need for so much long distance travel. London is too overcrowded already.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Thanks for clipping Liverpool off the map, not not only do we not get a 1st class connection, despite being one of the largest urban areas in the UK, with the fastest growing economy outside of London and the third most visited city in the UK- but now you don't even need the embarrassment of showing us on the map.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    The railways need improvement.

    HS2 is not an improvement.


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