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Scottish Parliament Speech: Glasgow Airport Rail Link (November 2009)

See this speech in context on They Work For You.

I congratulate Bill Butler on securing a members' business debate on what is quite a controversial topic. Yesterday was an historic day for rail transport. Warren Buffett, the sage of Omaha, has spoken. He bought the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway's 3,000 miles of track for $26 billion. Had he bought at the rate at which the GARL project was calling on our finances, he would have got about 200 miles of track.

We should remember - I address Charlie Gordon in particular - that, in 1999, Sir Alastair Morton, who was the first and, in effect, only chair of the Strategic Rail Authority, went to Gordon Brown with proposals for major high-speed developments for Britain's railways that would have cost £30 billion. However, Gordon Brown - with Lady Vadera, the dark lady of the London Underground, standing beside him - slapped him down. Had we gone ahead with modernisation then, we would not be having this debate today, just as the town council of Marseilles does not have debates about more flights to Paris because the train à grand vitesse, or TGV, which is the fast express train on French railways, can get people there in three hours. We are suffering from the prudence in spades of a decade ago. Only in the mid-2020s will we get what every major European nation, down to and including Spain, has got now. That is the penalty of having had the Labour Government in power.

The GARL project would only marginally, if at all, enhance accessibility to Glasgow airport. As one who travels quite frequently to the airport, I know that I can reach the airport from central Glasgow in about 15 minutes by bus, which takes a more direct route than what is proposed under GARL -

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