High Speed Rail Network Gets Backing

A government committee has announced that a high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham has a "good case".

The announcement comes after the Government carried out a public consultation on the proposal and the recommended route for an initial high-speed line from London to the West Midlands.

The scheme, known as HS2, is expected to cost £32 billion and offers "a new era of inter-urban travel in Britain", the Commons Transport Committee says.

"We support a high-speed rail network for Britain, developed as part of a comprehensive transport strategy also including the classic rail network, road, aviation and shipping," the committee's findings said.

A spokesman added: "We believe that the Government's HS2 proposal could form part of this network and provide substantial improvements in capacity and connectivity for inter-urban travel between our major cities. Furthermore, the released capacity on the classic rail network would also enable widespread improvements on local and regional rail services."

The committee said that alternative proposals to upgrade the existing West Coast Main Line would provide additional capacity but, given the substantial recent growth in rail passenger numbers, it seems that the alternatives might prove inadequate.

"They do not offer the step-change or the wider benefits to passenger and freight that HS2 would do. Whether these alternative proposals would be adequate turns on the accuracy of demand forecasts, which are a substantial part of the case for HS2."

The Labour chair of the committee, Louise Ellman, said the scheme was affordable and would provide a "step change" in the quality and frequency of rail services between major cities.


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