A recent survey by research organisation Greengauge 21 has found that there is strong support across northern England for extending high-speed rail (HSR) plans northwards beyond Leeds/Manchester to the major cities of Scotland, with 89% of respondents considering this to be important. But transport authorities and business groups identified some crucial differences in the way HSR should be developed in the north compared with current plans for HS2.
Scotland’s Minister for Transport, Keith Brown, will soon meet Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, to discuss how to take forward studies into achieving a three hour journey time for London – Glasgow/Edinburgh. The survey by Greengauge 21 provides clear pointers on what HSR in the north should deliver.
“Northern authorities are very clear that high-speed rail should provide good connections between the major provincial cities of England and Scotland and direct services to European cities, not just fast links to London,” said Jim Steer, Director Greengauge 21. “And new lines should be designed to accommodate fast inter-regional passenger services or freight trains as long as this does not compromise the provision of true high-speed passenger services.”
Views were divided on whether northern high-speed rail lines should be new build like HS2 or upgrades of existing routes, with most authorities considering that upgrade options should at least be considered to minimise costs.
Jim Steer added: “Holyrood and Westminster can meet knowing they have the support of authorities across the north of England, as this preliminary research by Greengauge 21 shows.”
1. Greengauge 21 has developed a set of proposed planning criteria that they believe should guide the detailed studies into HSR between northern England and Scotland. These are contained in the report “Connecting HS2 to Scotland: the North of England Criteria”.
2. Also in the report are the results of the survey of authorities across the north of England.