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High speed rail must benefit North and Midlands if it is to succeed

A new high speed rail network should boost economic growth in the Midlands and the North, and not simply provide a feed into London, said government quango High Speed 2 (HS2) rail director Andrew McNaughton this week.

McNaughton said good connection between cities outside London was the most important consideration for any new system.

He was speaking as high speed rail pressure group Greengauge 21 launched plans for a £69bn UK high speed rail network.

Its plan involves the development of five such lines across the country.

“Passengers would have a different experience of speed, reliability and comfort using high speed rail. What we need is a way to develop the economies in the great northern cities, which will act as a balance to London.”

Andrew McNaughton, HS2

“Any high speed rail network will not be rail − it is something quite different,” he said. “Passengers would have a different experience of speed, reliability and comfort using high speed rail.

“What we need is a way to develop the economies in the great northern cities, which will act as a balance to London,” he said.

He added that any new network would spark massive economic growth and that while a high speed network would eat into the domestic aviation market, this would only be a green solution if the trains were full.

NCE understands that the first London to Birmingham leg under investigation by HS2 would be compatible with the Greengauge 21 proposals and that a new high speed network would rely heavily on large new parkway-style stations to connect cities.

Economic benefits

Launching the Greengauge 21 plans, director Jim Steer said 62% of the economic benefits would go to the Midlands and the North.

He also said that the cash to develop the network would meet the strictest cost/benefit tests, with every £1 invested bringing £3.50 back into the economy.

Network Rail recently proposed a £34bn route from London to Glasgow for 18,500 passengers per hour by 2030 (NCE 3 September).

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