High speed rail will have spin-off boost for north

Railway line near Greystonelees.
Railway line near Greystonelees.

HIGH speed trains would be able to directly serve Berwick, Dunbar and Alnmouth, slashing journey times and improving connections to key destinations, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has pledged.

The proposed route and the locations of new stations in the West Midlands, North West, East Midlands and Yorkshire have been revealed to underline the Government’s absolute commitment to investing in the infrastructure that Britain needs to compete and succeed in the global economy.

Many of the trains running on HS2, the company set up by the Government to consider the case for new high speed rail services between London and Scotland, will be compatible with the existing railway and therefore able to run off the 225mph high-speed lines to serve northern sections of the east coast main line.

The publication of the 211-mile northern Phase Two route of HS2, part of the UK Government’s Mid-Term Review, follows the confirmation a year ago of HS2’s 140-mile southern Phase One route between London and Birmingham, which starts construction in four years and opens to passengers in 13 years. The routes announced this week, running from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, will open six years after that.

Mr McLoughlin has also ordered the Department for Transport to look into whether the project can be fast-tracked so that the second phase of HS2 is completed ahead of the scheduled completion date of 2032.

He said: “HS2 will be woven into the transport fabric of the nation, accessible to all, and I believe these proposed routes north of Birmingham offer a great starting point for the consultation process to follow.”

Analysis by HS2 has shown that the journey from Berwick to Heathrow airport could take as little as 194 minutes, saving almost two hours compared to current journey times.

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith has previously stated that increased capacity on the current east coast main line was a more pressing issue given the timescale of HS2 delivery.

HS2 will make Manchester 41 minutes from Birmingham city centre and 1 hour 8 minutes from London Euston, almost halving their durations, while Leeds will be 1 hour 22 minutes away from London Euston, down from 2 hours 12 minutes.