It’s taken the Tories, who are holding their conference here in Birmingham, to announce plans for a high speed rail link from Scotland, through Manchester and Leeds as well as Brum, to London, then on to Paris and Brussels. This would make a third runway at Heathrow unnecessary and cut a substantial number of flights.
There have been mutterings for some time now but nothing substantial has emerged. Dozy New Labour, who after a long delay, have finally come up with a revamp of New Street Station. This does something for passengers using New Street, but nothing for rail capacity so on its own won’t add up to much apart from cosmetics.
The Tories need to redeem their credibility on transport in Birmingham. Since they came to power propped up by the Liberal Democrats in 2004 they have moved backwards. The planned Metro has been delayed, possibly terminally, first by a very costly and unnecessary investigation into an underground system with no plan B in place. Earlier work on tackling congestion has been severely compromised.
Intercity communication improvements is fine, but for Birmingham people local transport is of even greater importance, opening up both job and leisure time opportunities. Conservatives in power (supposed to be jointly with Lib Dems with little apparent how they have done anything but tow the Tory line). Opposition to new Metro routes has come mainly from those who live along proposed routes and local politicians have amplified their views at the expense of the larger community. In consequence those cities with a greater will to succeed, like Nottingham, have systems in place. The existing Metro which runs between Wolverhampton and Birmingham, Snow Hill, is popular, with free parking at its stations. These often reach capacity.