Network Rail says that a north-south high speed line would generate around £55 billion worth of benefits for the UK economy.
Announcing the results of a year long study into the business case for the route, it said that a line linking London with Scotland would have a much stronger business case than a route that just linked London with Birmingham and Manchester. The study recommends the building of a line to connect London with Manchester and Preston before continuing north and diverging to reach Glasgow and Edinburgh. Birmingham and Liverpool would be served by two short spurs.
A connection with Leeds has been ruled out on the grounds that this would undermine the case for a second high speed line from London with the north east. A location for a London terminus has yet to be identified but Network Rail is known to favour St Pancras because this would enable passengers to travel to and from Europe without changing stations.
It is envisaged that the £34 billion line – which would see a journey time of just over two hours between London and Scotland – would all but eliminate domestic flights in the UK.
“High speed rail can transform Britain” asserts Iain Coucher, Network Rail’s chief executive. “It can promote economic growth, regeneration and social inclusion. It will release capacity on the existing rail network and revolutionise passenger journeys.” Mr Coucher said the high speed line has a sound business case and will help to meet the growing demand for rail travel. With existing lines into London already close to capacity, the industry needs to start planning now to meet future needs.
Article courtesy of the rail engineer magazine.