Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis today announced proposals for a £30bn high speed rail network linking London to Birmingham, Manchester, the East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds, with trains running at up to 250 miles per hour.
The first step in building the 335-mile 'Y'-shaped network would be a high speed line from London to Birmingham, for which the Government has today published details of the recommended route.
Full public consultation on that route, and the longer term strategy for high speed rail, will begin in the Autumn. Detailed planning work will now also begin on the route options from Birmingham to Manchester and to Leeds to allow consultation on these routes in 2012.
The recommended route for a London-Birmingham high speed line would run from a rebuilt Euston station to a new Birmingham City Centre station at Fazeley/Curzon Street.
A Crossrail interchange station would be built at Old Oak Common in West London, giving the new line direct connections to the West End, City and Docklands via Crossrail, to the South West via the Great Western main line and to Heathrow via the Heathrow Express.
A second interchange station could also be located to the south east of Birmingham - offering direct links to Birmingham Airport, the National Exhibition Centre and the M6 and M42.
In the first instance the line would connect to Heathrow airport through a direct link to the Heathrow Express at Old Oak Common. However, the Government has appointed Lord Mawhinney, a former Transport Secretary, to examine potential options for a future station at the airport itself.
Further work is also being carried out to assess options for a connection to the wider European high speed rail network, through either or both a dedicated rapid transport system linking Euston and St Pancras and a direct rail link to High Speed One.
The Government has formed its proposals after consideration of a detailed report from HS2, the company set up by the Government in January 2009 to investigate the case for high speed rail.
HS2 have provided an estimated cost of £30 for the 'Y'-network and also found that construction costs for major projects in the UK are higher than for comparable projects elsewhere in Europe.
In the light of this evidence, Infrastructure UK - the body set up to help ensure that publicly funded infrastructure is effectively prioritised and delivered - will work with the Department for Transport to consider whether and how construction costs can be reduced.
The Government proposes to secure the powers to deliver any high speed network by means of a single Hybrid Bill. Depending on the outcome of consultation and Parliamentary timescales and approval, this should allow construction to start after the Crossrail scheme is completed from 2017 with the high speed network opening in phases from 2026.