High speed rail announcement: Greenpeace response

Last edited 5 August 2009 at 12:06pm
5 August, 2009

Commenting on the announcement by Transport secretary Lord Adonis of a new policy to replace domestic flights with a high-speed rail network across Britain, Greenpeace transport campaigner Vicky Wyatt said:

"This is an incredibly exciting announcement from a transport secretary who has at last forced the government to grasp the potential of high-speed rail to replace millions of flights. If this vision becomes reality, Britain will become a cleaner, quieter country, saving huge quantities of carbon and finally building a rail network to rival our European neighbours."

She continued: "By admitting that short-haul flights can be replaced by a fast and efficient rail system, Adonis has holed the case for Heathrow expansion below the water line. 100,000 short-haul flights take-off and land at Heathrow every year, but the moment they're transferred onto the rail network the aviation industry's case for a third runway falls apart."

She added: "The reaction of the aviation industry is entirely in character. For years they've been courted and cosseted by successive transport secretaries and are used to getting their way at every turn. Instead of standing in the way of progress the airlines should embrace this low-carbon vision. At the very least the events of recent months shows their 20th century business model isn't going to fly anymore. Rail is the future."


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The figure of 100,000 short-haul flights to and from Heathrow every year comes from research from the respected HACAN group. Its 2006 analysis showed that Paris, with 60 flights a day, is Heathrow's top destination.  Amsterdam, in second place, has 50 flights each day. And Brussels, just over two hours from London by train, has 30 daily flights.  In total there are around 100,000 flights each year serving the towns with the best rail connections: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Middlesbrough.

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