Latest Rail News

29.05.18

HS2 must be ‘X-shaped’ to bring high-speed services to left-behind regions

Integrating the HS2 project into the national network could help close the UK’s productivity gap with other G7 economies and inject “rocket fuel” into the economy, a new report from Greengauge 21 has said.

The report, ‘Beyond HS2,’ argues that the UK’s rail strategy should have a specific objective of boosting productivity and proposes a transformation of Britain’s railways – from “hub-and-spoke” based focused on London to a fully integrated network that links a set of city-centre ‘hub’ stations.

As well as fully integrating HS2 into the national network, the organisation’s report asks for an upgraded fast route from Birmingham to Bristol Parkway designed to carry HS2 trains, which would then continue to the south west and South Wales – ensuring these areas benefit from high-speed rail.

Greengauge’s proposals would therefore see HS2 turned from its planned ‘Y’ shape into an ‘X,’ with a new connection in the West Midlands leading to HS2 trains operating from Cardiff and Bristol to the Midlands, the north and Scotland.

The report also calls for a major upgrade of the East Coast Main Line for the first time since the 1980s; new high-speed lines in Essex, East Anglia and Scotland, thereby achieving a 3h 15m travel time between Edinburgh and London; new direct rail services to Heathrow and Manchester airports; new east-west connections, bringing together Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull as a collective economic unit; and plugging in left-behind places.

Greengauge 21 director, Jim Steer, commented: “Britain lacks a long-term national railway strategy beyond HS2. We need a plan to put rocket fuel into our economic productivity and today’s report sets out proposals to do so.”

Steer emphasised the importance of ensuring that no region of the UK is “left behind” by making sure the national railway strategy reaches all parts of the country.

He concluded: “What we have published provides a wealth of new analysis on connectivity strengths and weaknesses across the country. It is often said that rail needs a ‘guiding mind’ and we hope this report will show just what can be achieved by being prepared to think strategically.”

Responding, a spokesperson at the DfT said that whilst the department did not agree with all the recommendations in the report, it is still an “important contribution to the debate and underlines the need for HS2.”

They added: “The investment of £55.7bn in HS2 is on top of around £48bn from 2019 in the existing rail network. With Crossrail nearing completion and plans progressing on Northern Powerhouse Rail, we are ensuring the whole country has the connections it needs.”

 You can read the full report here.

 

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