Talk to firms before £32bn is spent on speedy rail – MP

Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South
Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South

A MILTON Keynes MP wants more thought given to a controversial £32billion high speed rail link before large sums of money are committed to it.

Iain Stewart, the Tory representative for the south of the city, also sits on the influential Commons Transport Select Committee which supports the £32billion High Speed 2 rail plan to link London to Birmingham and Scotland.

But former accountant Mr Stewart told a meeting of City Breakfast Club at stadium:mk on July 4, that he wants to see more input from the business community on key decisions.

He asked: “Are we about to spend £30billion on lines that might not be needed?”

Plans for HS2, which will run between London and Birmingham, have been backed by government.

Mr Stewart said he supports HS2 in principe because he belives a new new strategic north/south line is needed. But he remains to be convinced that HS2 as currently proposed is necessarily the best option.

Trains on the line will run at up to 225mph and the journey from London to Birmingham will be reduced to 49 minutes. It is hoped pressure on the existing Milton Keynes to London West Coast route will be reduced as a result.

By taking non-stop services off the West Coast line, more space will be created for additional commuter services and stopping intercity trains.

Mr Stewart, who was elected at the General Election in 2010, was at the business breakfast networking meeting to listen to the concerns of local company leaders before heading off to Prime Minister’s Questions. He invited businesses to tell him their views on transport.

One of the MP’s other areas of interest is around apprenticeships.

Mr Stewart is an advocate of good quality apprenticeships and against what he calls the “artificial snobbery” which favours young people being encouraged down the academic path to universities rather than vocational learning.

But he said he did not want to go back to the “secondary” option which characterised the division between grammar schools and secondary moderns. “The focus should be that young people have talents that have to be stretched a different way,” he said.