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Railways: Construction

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration his Department has given to the introduction of Maglev technology in the British rail network. (245000)

The July 2007 Rail White Paper, “Delivering a Sustainable Railway”, set out the Government’s strategy to improve the quality of inter-urban rail services, and to make the best use of existing networks by lengthening existing trains, increasing service frequencies and tackling key congestion pinch points.

The White Paper proposals are measured against the key tests of capacity, quality of service, value for money and environment. Increasing capacity is key, particularly in those services experiencing crowding.

The White Paper was clear that Maglev would offer less flexibility than a conventional railway to adapt to future changing patterns of demand. For example, it would be unable to accommodate other rail services. While Maglev currently operates on a relatively short point-to-point basis, scaling the technology up to a national network is unproven.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to promote high speed rail links to the North East. (245012)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what recent discussions his Department has had with rail operators in (a) the UK and (b) other European countries to discuss the potential for high speed rail in the UK; (244998)

(2) what steps his Department is taking to promote and implement a trans-European high speed rail network;

(3) what assessment his Department has made of the potential economic effects of a north-south high speed rail line in the UK.

The Government’s immediate priority is increasing capacity on the existing rail network and £10 billion will be invested from 2009 to 2014 on measures to bring this about.

In March 2008, the Secretary of State for Transport invited Network Rail to examine options for supporting further growth in the longer term, which might include new lines. The National Networks Strategy Group, chaired by Lord Adonis and outlined in the written ministerial statement laid by the Secretary of State on 29 October 2008, is available at:

www.dft.gov.uk/press/speechesstatements/statements/wmsnationalnetworks

will build on Network Rail’s work as part of the group’s focus on longer term solutions for strategic transport corridors.