Birmingham backs high speed rail

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Eurostar train crosses the Medway on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link now dubbed “High Speed 1” (photo originally published on EriksRailNews.com and republished by European Tribune)

A development programme was launched on Friday, 13 June to promote high speed rail development. Its purpose is to encourage the government to create a national strategy for high speed rail and to examine the case for high-speed rail links in five corridors.

Greengauge 21 director Jim Steer announced the launch of the £0.75M programme at the Railway Forum event in Birmingham. The event was attended by representatives from Eurostar, Network Rail, and Bechtel – one of the companies responsible for building the high-speed rail links between the Channel Tunnel and St Pancras which opened last year.

The programme, which will be funded by a consortium who are creating a Public Interest Group to oversee the work, will investigate funding options as well as consulting widely on the conclusions reached by earlier studies and on the outcome of this programme.

The proposal to construct a line from London to Birmingham received enthusiastic support from Birmingham City Council chief executive Stephen Hughes “The West Midlands Rail Capacity Study has shown the critically important West Coast Main Line runs out of capacity within 20 years”, said Mr Hughes. “It is vital we start planning for high speed rail services linking London and the continent with Birmingham International and the city centre. The study suggests economic benefits to the city will amount to over £1 billion, particularly benefiting the financial and business services sectors, but also construction, hotels and restaurants, real estate and other businesses.”

The new route, probably from Moor Street Station, would link to the Channel Tunnel, enabling passengers to travel from Birmingham to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam in three hours, and would offer express services to London and Heathrow in less than 50 minutes Research already carries out by the by the council suggests the best route would be to lay new track next to the Chiltern Line, from Moor Street to London via Warwick Parkway. A separate spur line to Birmingham International Airport and the NEC would also be constructed.

The case for connecting Birmingham and London by high speed rail is really a ‘no brainer’. Unfortunately the realisation of this project depends entirely on Government approval. Recently Tom Harris, Undersecretary State for Rail, questioned the environmental benefits of building high speed railways in the UK.

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