Nestrans seeks assurances for the north-east over national transport initiatives

Stuart Smith 2010, News

NESTRANS is continuing to put pressure on the Secretary of State for Transport following ongoing concerns over the marginalisation of Aberdeen City and Shire’s air and rail links to London and the south.

Chairman of the regional transport partnership Councillor Kevin Stewart has written to the Rt. Hon. Phillip Hammond calling on the Government to consider relaxing the current planning and night-time flying restrictions at Heathrow in order to increase capacity for domestic flights and maintain vital transport links from the north.

The letter comes just weeks after Nestrans first raised its concerns with the Secretary of State over the economic implications for the north-east following the government’s commitment to halt plans for a third runway at Heathrow. In his original letter, Cllr Stewart cited the need for strong transport links to London if the region is to safeguard its economic future and remain a key contributor to the wider UK economy.

In this second letter, Cllr Stewart asks the Government to implement a series of specific measures including:

~ The extension of the High Speed Rail network to Scotland in the first phase of the national project

~ The inclusion of Heathrow as part of the High Speed Rail network

~ The fast-tracking of the electrification of the line from the Central Belt to Aberdeen in time for the introduction of High Speed Rail

~ The investigation, with the European authorities, ways of ensuring appropriate access for peripheral regions to their national hub airport.

Nestrans believes it is vital that we find a way to secure transport links for the north-east to build on the range of destinations readily available to businesses already operating in the north-east and those the region needs to attract in order to secure its economic future.

To do this, it believes a joined up approach to the UK’s transport network is essential.

“Aberdeen is as far from London as Geneva is from London. Taking the train to Heathrow for a long haul flight even if high speed rail comes to Edinburgh and Glasgow will not be an attractive proposition,” said Cllr Stewart.

“I would ask that you consider access to London for the peripheral regions in the whole. In taking decisions on issues on their own there is a danger of having unintended consequences, This danger comes from the possibility of diminishing access to London for parts of the country, severely damaging their economic prospects.”

Cllr Stewart also points to a number of issues currently under consideration by the Government which Nestrans feel could impact on the north-east. These include:

~ Air access to Healthrow being under pressure due to the desire to introduce new services from Heathrow

~ High Speed Rail to Scotland being a long-term option

~ Consideration being given to remove through trains between Aberdeen and London on the East Coast Line.