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London to Manchester high speed rail back on

Inter-city high speed rail was this week put back on the UK transport agenda after the Department for Transport (DfT) highlighted the London-Birmingham-Manchester corridor as a possible route for a dedicated rail link.
The possibility of a new line was raised in the DfT's Towards a Sustainable Transport System document, published in response to last year's Eddington transport study and to the Stern review of the economics of climate change.

The report identified the London-Birmingham-Manchester route as "problem corridor" and a potential route for the UK's first domestic inter-city high-speedrail route.

The future for high speed rail in the UK had looked bleak after Sir Rod Eddington's report appeared to rule out high speed rail out as "unproven technology" in his study last year. But, he later clarified that his statement, saying that it referred only to the development of Maglev rail and not to conventional high speed lines.

The development of intercity high speed rail was just one of a "broad range of options" to tackle congestion and mitigate the environmental impact of transport, according the DfT.

"This might include widening of motorways, active traffic management, road-pricing, or the construction of new rail capacity either through a conventional (c. 125 mph) or a high-speed (c. 200 mph) line," says the report.

"Our aim is to support people's desire for mobility while ensuring that transport contributes to the overall reduction in carbon emissions," said transport secretary Ruth Kelly.

The report says the "right mix of solutions requires an understanding of the origins, destinations and purpose of goods and people movements through the corridor".

"There is just no substance to this document. Is this really the best they can do? After 10 years, how does the government have the nerve to try the same trick over and over again – floating rehashed ideas they know they will never deliver?"

Liberal Democrat transport secretary Susan Kramer added: "We need a commitment from the Government to invest in a complete high speed rail network, not just a single line from London to Birmingham."

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