Labour: MPs right to back high-speed rail

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle responds to the Commons' transport committee's report on high speed rail:

"There is a growing consensus that Britain needs to seize the opportunities that high speed rail can bring, but also a determination that the precise scheme we adopt must deliver the best possible economic benefits.

"I therefore welcome the fact that the transport select committee's report reaches the same conclusions as our own policy review and finds that the existing proposals can be improved.

"Ministers must now consider these issues very carefully before they come forward with their final proposals so that we can move forward on a cross party basis with this vital project.

"The government should take seriously the select committee's call for ministers to make a firm commitment to the entire Y network before seeking parliamentary approval.

"In addition to making that commitment, the government should go further and agree to include the entire line in a single piece of legislation to provide the long term certainty that this project needs.

"The select committee is absolutely right to back Labour's call for a fresh look at the case for a direct link to Heathrow.

"Following the cancellation of the third runway, it is vital that we take the opportunity that this new line offers to provide greater connectivity to our major hub airport.

"Ministers should also listen to the call for a comprehensive transport strategy including aviation, high speed rail and the existing rail network.

"The current proposals do not adequately maximise the potential connectivity between the proposed high speed line and our existing rail network, including the potential for early connection to the Great Western Main Line if the route were to include Heathrow from the start."