High Speed gathering support

RailNews.co.uk reports on a number of stories about the gathering momentum towards High Speed 2, the link to Heathrow and the West Midlands. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has outlined his intentions to make a committment to the project which Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon described with “a credible plan” for a new high-speed rail line between Heathrow and the West Midlands is expected before the end of the year", Brown will back ‘credible plan’ to link Heathrow and West Midlands.

Meanwhile Railnews also reports that the increasing development of the South Midlands and it's increasing population together with capacity needs has swung opinion to High Speed 2, Big population growth helps swing opinion towards HS2. The focus on capacity follows the South Midlands around Milton Keynes seeing the largest population growth in the UK with a population over 1.6m already and sitting on the West Coast Main Line's most congested section between Birmingham and London.

Focusing on a possible early start on a high-speed line from London to the West Midlands, DfT says London-North West is Britain’s “single most important and heavily used” transport corridor.

And forecasts for peak-hour loadings on the WCML show that the section between London and the West Midlands is “already by far the most intensively used inter-city line in the country (and) is likely to reach its absolute capacity limit by the mid-2020s – even after the £8.8 billion upgrade”.

Network Rail has made it clear in briefings that with the new high-frequency timetable on the West Coast Mainline seeing three trains an hour between Birmingham and London it is impossible to run any additional peak-hour trains between London and Milton Keynes on fast lines.

Together with the High Speed solution, Network Rail is looking at expanding it's plans for electrification infill and electrifying major parts of the Great Western and Midland Main Line, Electrification plans expand to take in more routes.

Plans for new trains to replace HSTs on inter-city routes are being deferred until the Government decides whether new parts of the network should be electrified, trans-port secretary Geoff Hoon has told Parliament.

The infill routes have been proposed to increase capacity and provide diversionary routes for electric trains during engineering work or disruptions and will likely see large area in the Manchester and Leeds area electrified and the northern TransPennine route electrified throughout.


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