The future of transport in Milton Keynes was a hot topic when Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, paid a visit to the city yesterday.
Mr McLoughlin, whose parliamentary private secretary is MK South MP Iain Stewart, gave a speech to MK Business Leaders in a packed-out room at the Jury’s Inn on Midsummer Boulevard.
The Conservative MP for Derbyshire Dales believes significant infrastructure investment is “absolutely essential” as transport becomes critical for a modern-day economy.
He said: “For a place like Milton Keynes, where commuting is just so important, making sure you have got good, reliable services is essential.
“We have to provide commuters with a service they can make the most out of.”
Investment in Milton Keynes transport is already underway with the central station having undergone a ‘face-lift’, the A421 becoming a dual-carriageway all the way to the M1.
By 2019, the East West Rail project will see Milton Keynes linked with Oxford and Cambridge and work is scheduled to regenerate Bletchley after funding was recently secured.
Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes south who organised Mr McLoughlin’s visit, said: “Milton Keynes has so many transport related projects ongoing.
“It is not just about managing today’s transport infrastructure, Milton Keynes is at the cutting-edge of future transport.
“We have already seen the existing railway services, Virgin and London Midland, have already had extra carriages added in the last year or two.
“So we are already seeing practical investment, which we need to sustain our economic growth.”
During a question and answer time at the MK Business Leaders event Mr McLoughlin addressed the controversial HS2 infrastructure, which he said would benefit Milton Keynes travellers by releasing space on crowded lines.
Mr McLoughlin said; “It is brave to do HS2. The easiest thing in the world would be to stop it and to say ‘no we’re not doing it’.
“That’s the easiest thing to do with any large piece of infrastructure - it’s what we have been doing in this country for the last 50 years. When there has been a big problem we have walked away from it.
“We can either look with admiration at other countries and think ‘isn’t their infrastructure wonderful’, but say we don’t want to build it here.
“If we want to become a country where people come and invest, having good transport links is absolutely essential. I want to see Britain part of an exciting, vibrant future.
“We will still keep the United Kingdom as it is, we will still have fantastic countryside, but let’s also make sure we are promoting and developing the wealth in this country to give us the kind of standard of living we desire and want for our children and parents.”
Andrew Pakes, parliamentary candidate for Milton Keynes South, said: “It is always good to see national politicians visiting Milton Keynes but I am disappointed the Transport Secretary did not have anything to say on rising rail fares or the cost of running the railways.
“Transport does have a bright future if you are a train operating company but it is a lot less rosy if you are a commuter facing higher fares.
“The Minister was silent on the rocketing cost of franchising rail services and the £50 million of taxpayers money his government wasted on the failed West Coast franchise completion.”