Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

High Speed Rail statement debated by MPs

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Transport Minister Sadiq Khan has unveiled proposals in the Commons for a new High Speed Rail (HSR) link between London and Birmingham.

The plans, featuring 250mph trains, were announced earlier on 11 March 2010 in the House of Lords by Transport Secretary Lord Adonis.

A White Paper is recommending a route for a new line between London and Birmingham with a future extension to northern England and Scotland.

The public will be consulted on the proposed route, with work unlikely to start until 2017 at the earliest.

In Commons exchanges on the announcement, shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers said she welcomed the government's "change of heart" on high-speed rail but warned its plans were "flawed".

Ms Villiers said the Conservatives were not prepared to "blindly accept" the route proposed by ministers.

She added that her party, if elected to power at the election, would start work on the project in 2015 - two years earlier than the government's plan.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Norman Baker also welcomed the development, saying his party had been calling for it for years.

Mr Baker sought guarantees that money would not be "raided" from existing rail projects to pay for HSR and asked for a long-term commitment to extend it to Scotland.

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