The UK government proposal for a high speed rail network in England has taken shape with the decision to branch the line at Birmingham into separate routes to Leeds and Manchester.
The transport Secretary, Phil Hammond, has been considering advice from HS2 Ltd – the Government company set up to examine the case for high speed rail – on the relative benefits of a ‘Y’ branch route of the high speed rail network against a ‘reverse S’ shaped route from Birmingham to Manchester and then across the Pennines to Leeds. HS2 Ltd found that the Y network would deliver a total of £25 billion more benefits than the reverse S.
According to HS2, the benefits of the Y route include:
- faster journey times to Leeds and the North East;
- ability to serve additional markets such as East Midlands and South Yorkshire;
- over 40,000 more trips daily; and
- the ability to generate far greater released capacity on the Midland and East Coast main lines, benefiting commuter and regional markets.
- a stronger business case, stemming from both higher projected transport benefits (around £15bn greater) and revenue (around £10bn greater).
Consultations on the details of the high speed network are still on-going. It remains unclear whether Scotland will benefit from the vast improvements in journey times.