ICE director general Nick Baveystock said the long awaited plans for phase two of High Speed 2 (HS2) railway lines were “a very welcome step in driving forward this ambitious project”.
Proposals for the next stage of the £32bn high speed rail network were unveiled by the government last week (News last week).
The ICE reiterated its support for a new railway that is “fit for the 21st century - significantly increasing capacity, strengthening connectivity between our city regions and boosting the UK economy in the long term”.
Phase two of HS2 will see the line go north from Birmingham along two branches, with new stations at Toton near Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Manchester Airport.
The government also confirmed that the proposed spur to Heathrow Airport has been put on hold pending the Davies Commission’s review of UK aviation policy, due to be published in 2015.
However, the government said it would consider undertaking the necessary preparatory work for a possible spur to avoid later disruption, a move the ICE said was a “sensible approach”.
Baveystock was also encouraged to see plans for ensuring that other key cities in northern England and Scotland could benefit from HS2, through connections with the existing rail network.
“The Scottish government is already undertaking work to develop its high speed rail options and a joint vision will help ensure the UK wide benefits of HS2 are realised at the earliest opportunity,” he said.
The ICE will be drawing on the expertise of its members across the country when the formal consultation for phase two is launched. A final decision on the phase two route is due to be taken in 2014.