Ministers back proposals for high-speed rail engineering infrastructure project

09 November 2011


Posted by Samuel Couratin

Plans to connect the north and south of England with a high-speed rail line have been backed by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee.

According to the group of MPs, there is "a good case" to press ahead with the proposals.

The committee has backed an intended route between London, the Midlands, Manchester and Leeds, adding that the Scottish Government should also think about putting high-speed infrastructure in place north of the border.

Chair of the body, Louise Ellman, explained the high-speed link "would provide a step change in the capacity, quality, reliability and frequency of rail services between our major cities".

She said it provides a range of strategic and economic benefits, as well as enhancing connectivity nationwide and into Europe and could "be a catalyst for economic growth, helping to rebalance the economy and bridge the north-south divide".

Scheduled to be constructed over 17 years at an annual cost of £2 billion, the MPs said the scheme is "affordable" and advocated looking at ways to "build southwards from the north" to ensure Manchester and Leeds are served as soon as possible, although they agreed the line between Birmingham and London should be constructed first.

The committee has outlined a series of recommendations including ensuring that investment in the rest of the UK's network does not suffer because of the high-speed rail project.

A company High-speed Two (HS2) was created by the Government in January 2009 to consider the case for new high speed rail services.

It released proposals on links from London to Scotland for a consultation on the subject that was run by the Government between February and July this year and the Transport Secretary is due to announce the results of the exercise and responses to the recommended route from the capital to the West Midlands later this year.

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