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October 04, 2010

British government outlines high-speed plans

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HIGH-SPEED rail will become the "mode of choice" for travellers in Britain according to the country's transport minister Mr Philip Hammond, who today outlined the government's vision for a Y-shaped high-speed network linking London with central and northern England.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Hammond said consultation will begin next year on the core London-Birmingham section and announced the government's preferred option for continuing the line to northern England. This will involve the construction of two lines, one running north-west to Manchester and the other north-east to Leeds via the East Midlands. There will be connections to the West Coast Main Line and East Coast Main Line to allow services to run to destinations such as Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Detailed route plans have already been published for the initial London - Birmingham phase of the project. These were developed by High Speed 2 under the previous Labour government but in line with Conservative policy on the project they will be revised to include a branch to Heathrow Airport and a connection to High Speed 1, which would allow through running to mainland Europe.

Hammond says the entire network is likely to cost around £33 billion although construction is unlikely to begin before the next national election in 2015. The government expects to invest around £2 billion per year in the project between 2015 and 2025.

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