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North West urged to back high speed rail

A new high speed rail network would help create jobs and spread prosperity in Manchester and the North West, Transport Minister Theresa Villiers has told business and civic leaders in Manchester.

The Government is currently holding a public consultation on its proposals for high speed rail which runs until 29th July 2011, which the minister said that the development will not only provide high speed journeys but also extra capacity.

The Government is proposing a ‘Y’ shaped high speed rail network stretching from London to Manchester and Leeds, from where connections on to existing lines would also enable through-running direct services to Scotland.

Villiers said: “HS2 would almost halve the journey time between London and Manchester, but the extra capacity it would provide will be as vital its speed.

“With many peak-hour trains between London and Manchester now full and passengers standing for much of their journey, more capacity is desperately needed. The Government is lengthening existing trains on the line, but on current projections this extra space will soon be swallowed up.

“HS2 would allow us to run hundreds of extra trains - providing a total of around half a million seats - each and every day.”

The Department for Transport estimates the cost of the complete ‘Y’ shaped network at £32bn and expects it would generate economic benefits of around £44bn and fare revenues of around £27bn over a 60-year period.

The proposed network would be delivered in two phases - the first a line from London to the West Midlands and linked to the HS1 line to the Channel Tunnel, and the second the onward legs to Manchester and Leeds. The second phase would also include a direct link to Heathrow, bringing Manchester within an hour and ten minutes of the country’s major hub airport.

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