Network Rail has revealed the results of a detailed investigation into the need for new capacity on Britain’s railway network, concluding that in order to meet demand a new high-speed line from central London to central Manchester offered the best benefits, reducing the journey time to just 1hour 6 minutes.
The investigation concluded that a new 200mph high-speed line to the Midlands, the Northwest and Scotland, halving travel time to Scotland to just over two hours, was the best option generating almost £55 billion of value with a capital construction cost of £34 billion.
Iain Coucher, Network Rail’s chief executive said: “High-speed rail can transform Britain. It can promote economic growth, regeneration and social inclusion. It is a low carbon option – cutting domestic flights and taking cars and lorries off the road. It will release capacity on the existing rail network and revolutionise passenger journeys.”
“Demand for rail travel is growing and our main lines from the north to London are nearly full. By 2020 we will be turning away passengers – that’s not what we want. We need to start the planning now to meet future demand and the solution is a new high-speed railway to the Midlands, the Northwest and Scotland. The line has a sound business case that will pay for itself.”
Mr Coucher added: “As well as running Britain’s railway day-to-day, Network Rail also looks at long-term planning to meet customer, passenger and freight demand. Today the railway is thriving, we want that to continue and to meet the economic and environmental needs of tomorrow.”
Steven Broomhead, NWDA Chief Executive, said: “The growth of the Northwest economy relies on fast and reliable connections to London and other UK cities, so this report is a major step forward in realising this aim. It’s clear that without major investment, the outlook is for growing congestion on our rail network.
“We particularly welcome Network Rail’s prioritisation of a high speed link to the Northwest, which would cut journey times to and from the capital to their shortest ever.
“The challenge now will be to build a strong case for Government investment to ensure this project happens.”
Source: Network Rail