date: 11 March 2010
embargo: For immediate release
Responding to the Government's high speed rail link plans published today (Thursday), TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
'Today's announcement gives the green light to a much needed upgrade of our rail infrastructure. High speed rail is vital if we are to compete with European colleagues and build a low carbon transport system fit for the future.
'The building of the rail link could create up to 10,000 new jobs and boost skills in manufacturing, engineering and construction. The Government must ensure the project maximises opportunities for UK suppliers, along with apprenticeships and training for local people.
'By slashing journey times and improving connections, it will also provide a long term boost to businesses in the regions it serves. The future plans to take the route north of Birmingham will be key to bringing these benefits to the north of England and Scotland, further chipping away at the north-south divide.
'But investment in high speed rail must not come at the cost of other national and regional services. We need a high-quality network across the UK, including reliable local and regional services.
'And as taxpayers will be paying for this rail link tickets must be affordable to everyone so that high speed rail doesn't simply become a business express service that prices out ordinary passengers.'
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Issued: 11 March, 2010