Monday, 5 April 2010

Lib Dems to Expand the Rail Network

The Liberal Democrats were the party who fought for the current rail expansion that is going on in Scotland ahead of the 2003 election. Living as I do in Bathgate I get an almost daily update on the progress of one of those projects with the Bathgate to Airdrie extension. Today plans to shift £3bn from road to rail projects has been announced as part of the Lib Dem plans for a greener UK.

In what will be the biggest rail expansion since the Victorian era thousands of miles of tracks. Precise details of what will be opened will have to wait until they are tendered but here are some of the schemes that will be considered as priorities.

The electrification of lines from Manchester to Liverpool, Leeds and Preston; from Birmingham to Bristol and Basingstoke; and between Leeds and York. New or reopened stations could be funded in Ilkeston, Kidlington, Wantage, Corsham, Tavistock, Middlewich, Ashington, Blyth, Washington and Skelmersdale.

New lines could link Southport with Preston, Bournemouth with Ringwood and the Midlands main line with the Birmingham-Derby route. And track could be reopened between Exeter and Okehampton; Tavistock and Plymouth; Penrith and Keswick; and Galashiels and Carlisle.

The Galashiels to Carlisle link effectively completes the borders connection not just linking north to Edinburgh but also south to the mainline connections.

Lib Dem transport spokesman Norman Baker said:

"The Liberal Democrats will transform the railways with the biggest expansion since the Victorian age.

"Labour has allowed the railways to wither on the vine and punished passengers with huge fare hikes while more polluting forms of transport have got cheaper. All the while, the Tories have been sharpening the axe they will take to the transport budget.

"High speed rail is hugely important, but it is only part of the 21st-century rail network Britain needs. Our plans will reopen thousands of miles of track across the country and make our railway great again."

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