Providing capacity relief to the east of England

10 January, 2011

We suggested in an earlier blogpost that serious consideration should be given to a second, eastern, HSR line in order to provide relief to the East Coast Main Line.

However, there could be substantial wider benefits from such a line, particularly in the east of England.

The national network developed in Greengauge 21’s Fast Forward includes an eastern high-speed line from London to the North East that serves, by a branch, Stansted Airport and potentially beyond, through a new extension eastwards from the airport into East Anglia. This concept has only  been developed in outline, but it reflects an idea developed in the London – Ipswich (LOIS) Multi Modal Study for DfT 10 years ago, which had struggled to find a solution to the capacity problem of the two-track Great Eastern Main Line (GEML).

It is interesting to see that the problem remains, for now, unsolved. Network Rail, in its London and South East RUS, says of the GEML route that it “has forecast a major capacity challenge, with options [to resolve it that are] extremely limited”. Our point is that the eastern high-speed line has the capability to serve the North East of England and to address a capacity challenge on the GEML for which there are no apparent solutions short of ‘build a new railway’.

Indeed, an eastern HSR line would address the day-long capacity challenges of the ECML, the shortfalls in capacity forecast on the West Anglia route (now much less severe with a revised assumption that Stansted Airport is not expanded) as well as relieving the critical section of the GEML from the edge of London to Ipswich.

Time for serious examination?