Economic fears over rail link

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THE North East could lose out on high-speed rail in the face of Heathrow Airport-style opposition, a business leader has warned.

Northumbrian Water chief executive Heidi Mottram has called for a united front amid fears the region is not prepared enough to successfully lobby for substantial infrastructure spending.

Speaking before MPs, council leaders and party members at Labour’s Manchester conference, Ms Mottram, who ran Northern Rail before joining Northumbrian Water, said the opposition of those seeking to prevent a third runway being built at Heathrow should be seen as a prelude to the planning battle for a high-speed rail line.

The Government intends to build a 250mph £32bn line from London to Leeds and Manchester, with trains then travelling on conventional lines to Newcastle and Scotland.

Ms Mottram, recently appointed a member of a Nick Clegg-backed North East Commission, told delegates it was far from certain that the route would make it to the North.

She said: “I strongly support high-speed rail. It plays a big role in solving the infrastructure issues we face, 
but one of the things that worries me here is that we have seen a very powerful lobbying effort in the south with regards to a third runway at Heathrow.”