'Rail plan will have no benefit for Bristol'
MORE than £32 billion is to be invested in a new high speed rail network – but Bristol's embattled passengers are unlikely to reap the rewards.
Ministers claimed the whole of the country would gain from the HS2 scheme through reduced capacity on roads and other rail networks.
But critics said there would be "absolutely no benefits whatsoever" for the region.
The go-ahead for the ambitious scheme, announced in Parliament yesterday, dashed hopes of a direct rail link between the South West and Heathrow Airport.
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The Great Western Mainline will connect to the HS2 network at a new interchange at Old Oak Common in West London, but it is unlikely this would become the preferred route to the North West from Bristol.
Asked how Bristol could benefit, Transport Secretary Justine Greening, right, told the Evening Post the connection with the Great Western Mainline would ease congestion on the South West's network and reduce the number of car journeys by nine million a year.
She said: "It's not just high-speed rail for people on the routes. It will also take some pressure off existing lines."
Benefits will be felt "far more broadly than the cities it directly serves", she added.
And Kingswood Tory MP Chris Skidmore said the investment would "bring overall benefit to Britain".
But William Dartmouth, a UKIP Euro-MP for the South West, said: "This project will cost taxpayers in the South West almost £110 million pounds, and will have absolutely no benefits whatsoever for local people."
He added: "The whole project is a sop to the big parties' marginal seats in the West Midlands. They have either forgotten or don't care about the needs of people in the South West."