Birmingham would gain a major railway station under a Conservative government, it has been revealed.
Tory plans for a new high speed rail line linking Birmingham to the Continent include funding for new stations in Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, said Theresa Villiers, Shadow Transport Secretary.
She revealed further details of Conservative plans in an interview at Westminster. Tories announced plans at their party conference in Birmingham for a new line linking London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, at a cost of £20 billion.
The Government would provide £15.7?billion, with payments over 12 years, rail companies paying the rest.
According to the Conservatives, a high speed line would cut journey times from London to Birmingham to 45 minutes.
It would also reduce overcrowding on the West Coast Main Line – freeing space for improved services to destinations such as Milton Keynes, Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford.
But New Street station in central Birmingham will not have the capacity to cope with a new line, even after a radical £600 million redevelopment.
Engineering consultancy Arup has called for the creation of a new station – Grand Central – in the heart of the city.
But this is staunchly opposed by Birmingham Council, which has commissioned a study into three alternatives, including extending Moor Street in central Birmingham, extending Birmingham International at the NEC, or creating new capacity at New Street with underground platforms.
Ms Villiers said it was too soon to know exactly what would happen in Birmingham, although she revealed she had been working closely with Arup on plans to expand the rail network in the south west.
She said: “Our costs factor-in a very substantial sum for new stations, in terms of the total £20 billion cost
“It would be premature to decide at this stage where they go, and how they interact with existing stations. Obviously they would serve those cities, but it is too early to tell the precise location.”
The Government announced plans for a detailed inquiry into the case for high speed rail – and accused the Conservatives of making a firm commitment to build a new rail network without working out how much it would cost or how it would be funded.
But Ms Villiers insisted: “We have done a lot of work on the cost. And we are convinced it’s affordable. We have done a detailed desktop feasibility study with some detailed modelling on the cost and, additionally, the revenue that will be generated by the line.
“People have been talking about high speed rail for years, and it just never happens. We felt we had to push the agenda on by making a definite commitment.
“We are absolutely confident that this is affordable.”