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Training session

The two stories, concerning the feasibility of HS1 and HS2 Eurostar routes north and the campaign to keep the Woodhead tunnel available as a national strategic asset, are of course part of the same story.

What are sorry state we have arrived at when we have to rely on unpaid campaigners to be the keepers of our strategic vision for the nation's infrastructure. Our elected politicians should be ashamed.

Imagine a new north route, via Sheffield and the Woodhead tunnel to Manchester, instead of the proposals to replicate the east coast and west coast mainlines to Birmingham and Leeds. One line at half the cost of HS1 and HS2 is proposed.

Imagine the economic impact of the former steel and coalfield communities of North Nottingham and South Yorkshire being within an hour of London, and 20 minutes of Manchester.

Imagine at a stroke, a bold scheme that would transform the economic prospects of millions. Imagine a new route that added speed, capacity and flexibility by linking the east and west coast main lines.

Of course someone did have the vision for such a scheme – in the 1880s Sir Edward Watkin commenced construction of a Channel tunnel designed to link Manchester, via Sheffield and London to the Continent. Watkins' Manchester, Sheffield & Lincoln route timetable of 1884 shows the journey from Sheffield to the East Coast Main Line at Retford took 20 minutes – today it takes twice as long.

ADRIAN MILLWARD (M)
aemillward@btinternet.com

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