In the wake of the collapse of the Exeter to Penzance railway line into the sea at Dawlish, as a result of record-breaking storms, the Green Party is renewing its call for the cancellation of HS2 and for major investment in local train routes instead. Greens also say the unprecedented storms demonstrate the failure of politicians to recognise the vulnerability of our infrastructure to climate change and their inability to take the warnings about its impacts seriously.
Rupert Read, Green Party national transport speaker, said:
"We have long opposed HS2 as an overblown vanity project and have favoured transferring about £10bn. from its price tag towards improving local rail routes. This could at last put Beeching into reverse but also improve the resilience of routes that have been neglected for years. As Greens we want to see a transport revolution in this country, and serious investment in rail lines around the country is at the heart of our plan."
The Greens are also critical of the way that elected representatives make short-term promises in their constituencies which they then break in whipped votes at Westminster. For example, several South West MPs have called for HS2 cancellation although all the major Westminster parties support the scheme .
Dr Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party's lead candidate in the South-West for the 2014 European Elections said:
"The people of South Devon and Cornwall have been aware for years that the coastal line through Devon is vulnerable and now is the time to kick start projects to explore re-tracking both the Bere Alston-Tavistock-Okehampton and the Newton Abbott-Heathfield-Teign Valley-Exeter routes. Restoring these would provide more reliability for inter-city travellers as well as benefiting local communities and economies around Dartmoor."
Dr Cato will be visiting the scene of the damaged railway at 12 noon on Friday 7th February and will be available for interview.