High-speed rail plans

The Department for Transport (DfT) has officially endorsed high-speed rail plans linking London, the West Midlands and Scotland.

A government-created company, High Speed Two (HS2), is to look at whether faster trains can be introduced from London to the north-west transport corridor – an area that has been identified by the government as being the most heavily used transport route linking the UK’s major cities.

In a letter to David Rowlands, head of HS2, transport minister, Andrew Adonis, signalled the government’s intention to undertake a public consultation for the scheme in 2010.

Adonis said: ‘Britain used to have a rail network that was the envy of the world and I envisage that HS2 will help re-establish Britain as a world leader in rail travel.

‘A high-speed line will provide faster journey times to the West Midlands and beyond, linking our major economic centres and communities, and will free-up capacity on the existing rail network for additional regional and local services.

‘If the regions share my view of the benefits high-speed rail will bring, then they need to help HS2 understand the business case for bringing high-speed services to their communities.’

HS2 will advise on the environmental impact and potential routes for the project by the end of this year.

Ian Austin, the regional minister for the West Midlands, said: ‘High-speed rail could bring huge benefits to the West Midlands, opening up opportunities for businesses to expand across the country. We’ll be able to link parts of the West Midlands with London and the south-east much more easily, which will be good for business and reduce congestion on our roads.

‘I think this is really exciting for the West Midlands and I am going to do all I can to make sure my community plays a full part in developing this opportunity.’