London mayor opposes British high speed rail plans

3rd July 2011, Comments 0 comments

London Mayor Boris Johnson will not support a high-speed rail link between the capital and other major British cities unless the entire London section is underground, a letter published Sunday showed.

While other countries such as Japan and France have extensive high-speed rail networks, Britain has only the short Channel Tunnel link between London and the south coast for services to Paris and Brussels.

Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative-Liberal government supports building a high speed link between London and cities such as Birmingham and Manchester.

However, Johnson said he "cannot support" the plans unless the London section is in tunnels -- which would ramp up the construction costs in indebted Britain.

The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, which saw the letter, said Johnson's opposition could cause long delays or even scupper plans for a high speed line up the spine of Britain.

Johnson made his comments in a June 20 letter to campaigner Jerry Marshall, who opposes the plans.

The Conservative said he supported high-speed rail but the current proposals were "inadequate" and "perverse", citing the environmental impact.

"I am seeking substantial changes in design of the route to ensure these impacts are properly addressed, preferably by tunnelling the whole route through London."

He also expressed fears that the London Underground network would not be able to cope with the extra influx of commuters.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "London's economy stands to benefit from the improved connectivity and increased capacity".

© 2011 AFP

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