The Department for Transport does not believe a UK-wide high speed rail network is currently feasible, New Civil Engineer understands.
The DfT has played down calls for a nationwide replica of HS2, after transport thinktank Greengauge 21 claimed that multiple high speed rail lines would inject “rocket fuel” into the economy.
However, NCE has learned that the DfT is sceptical about the current feasibility of rolling out a nationwide system.
While admitting that the report highlights the need for debate, a spokesperson for the DfT said that it does “not agree with all recommendations in the [Greengauge 21] report”.
““The focus now is on maximising the extraordinary benefits of HS2 for everyone. Whilst we may not agree with all recommendations in this report, it is an important contribution to the debate and underlines the need for HS2, delivering the rail network this country needs for the future,” a spokesperson said.
“This government has an ambitious and clear strategy for the future of our rail network.
HS2 will provide the backbone of our railway system – improving connections between our major cities, boosting productivity, delivering better journeys for passengers and driving economic growth across the country.”
Not-for-profit firm Greengauge 21 believes faster links to cities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Newcastle, Liverpool and Edinburgh would help the UK to close the productivity gap with European neighbours Germany and France.
Greengauge 21 director Jim Steer said: “We need a plan to put rocket fuel into our economic productivity and today’s report sets out proposals to do so.
“It is vital for the future of the country that no region is left behind, and the national railway strategy needs to reach all parts of the country.”
He added: “Fundamentally, we need to completely re-orientate the railway from a ‘hub-and-spoke’ centred on London to a fully national network.”
In total, Greengauge 21 believes that an additional 162km of high speed rail lines should be build by 2040.
The report also proposed a further 204km of fast lines with speeds between 200km and 250km.ph, with a major upgrade of the east coast mainline also put forward.
Like what you’ve read? To receive New Civil Engineer’s daily and weekly newsletters click here.