To the West Midlands and beyond…

Thursday, March 11 2010

The cover of the report from HS2 Ltd to the UK Government advising on proposals for a new high speed railway line between London and the West Midlands and the case for high speed rail services linking London, northern England and Scotland.

(Click on the cover to go to the DfT webpage from which the whole report – in 11 pdf files – can be downloaded.)

The Government today published the report that it had received from HS2 Ltd, in December 2009, containing recommendations regarding the building of a high speed railway between London and Birmingham – part of a future North – South high speed railway. According to a DfT ‘Command Paper’ (also released today) this would be the first section of a Y’ shaped’ network that would eventually extend through Manchester as far as Glasgow and Edinburgh (along the left arm of the ‘Y’ and also (along the right arm of the ‘Y’) through Sheffield and Leeds to Newcastle. As well as the report itself the DfT also published details of the proposed route as far as Rugely to the North. The DfT also hold detailed recommendations from HS2 Ltd for the route as far as Manchester, but these were not published.

The government envisage the project starting in 2017, costing between £15.8 billion and £17.4 billion and reducing the journey time between the UK’s two biggest cities to between 30 and 50 minutes. This line would be completed by 2026

Lord Adonis, the Secretary of State for Transport made a statement today in the House of Lords. He concluded with an appeal for cross-party support for the project.

High speed rail is a policy of huge strategic significance for the country. The time has come to create a credible plan, and for this to be a national cause.

The Conservative Party view on the proposals were set out by Shadow Transport Secretary Teresa Villiers who said in January.

Labour has not focused strongly enough on the need for a top class rail hub for Heathrow to connect it to Europe via the HS1, to provide an alternative to thousands of short haul flights.

BTWT will publish a detailed critique of the proposals and route in due course. Meanwhile the fact that – 13 years after Labour were elected to power – the proposals are being published just before a general election make me just a tad cynical as to whether the project will ever be realised in its current form.




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