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High Speed Rail: New £69bn network proposed

High speed rail pressure group Greengauge 21 has unveiled its proposals for high speed rail network - twin routes north from London to Scotland and slightly slower routes west to Cardiff, across the Pennines and from Edinburgh to Newcastle.

Greengauge say that a line from London to the North West remains the most urgent and provides the best business case.

But the group goes on to say that should a new line be built to the North West: “The line is forecast to reach capacity within 20 years of opening, and the East Coast Main Line is expected to reach capacity much earlier than that, so a second north-south route is needed,” it says.

Therefore, a second north-south line to shadow the East Coast Main Line should also be built, and both north-south lines should extend to Scotland.

The proposed 1,500km of High Speed Rail network

  • High Speed North West - London to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh, with connections to Heathrow Airport and to HS1.
  • High Speed North East - London to Cambridge, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle (and potentially Edinburgh).
  • High Speed Trans-Pennine - a mixed traffic 200km/h route between Manchester and Sheffield.
  • High Speed Wales & West - a progressive upgrade of the Great Western Main Line, allowing high-speed services to operate between London, Bristol and Cardiff.
  • Within Scotland - an Edinburgh-Glasgow fast link, with connections further north.

In addition, they say that a high-speed rail link to Heathrow Airport would improve nationwide access to the airport, and a connection to High Speed 1 would allow services to be operated through to Europe.

In Network Rail’s plans, revealed last month, a connection to High Speed 1 was discounted on cost grounds.

Cost

The plans would cost around £69bn, the group says, with a cost-benefit ratio of 3.5:1, “comfortably exceeding the
DfT threshold of 2:1 for ‘good’ value for money projects,” they say.

Design and development up to 2015 would cost £80-120M per year and public funding would be needed to meet the construction costs.

They say the first London to Manchester line would require some £1bn of public funds of the £1.7bn annual budget, they say, and construction would be a vehicle sich as High Speed One, it said.

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