UK high speed rail development gets green light

The shell of a new high speed train developed by Siemens for the Russian market

A new high speed train developed by Siemens for the Russian market (Source: Siemens)

By RTCC Staff

Proposals for a controversial £34bn high speed rail link has been given enthusiastic cross-party support in a new parliamentary report.

The network that will connect London with the north of England has been criticised for the environmental impact of its route through scenic, affluent communities. The Commons Transport Committee, which is made up of politicians from all major parties, has not only recommended the current plans, but recommended the acceleration of its expansion to more northern reaches of the UK.

“Construction of a high speed rail network should start with the line between London and the West Midlands, as this is where capacity needs are greatest,” the report states. “But we are concerned that under current plans high speed rail lines won’t reach Manchester and Leeds for more than 20 years.

“The Government should also look at options to build southwards from the north and link to other lines such as the Midland Main Line. We see no reason why the Scottish Government should not begin work on a Scottish high speed line, to connect with the English network in due course.”

A key aim of the UK plans is to address the north/south economic divide in the country.

In the US, a high speed line in California linking Anaheim and Los Angeles has seen its estimated cost rise from $34bn to $100bn. The Republicans are working to block the allocation of funding for the project.

High speed rail is touted as an alternative for short-haul flights. However, there have been serious issues with the technology in China, where high speed rail development is at full tilt. Technical challenges, spiralling costs and disappointing passenger figures have put the country’s railway ministry in debt. The Financial Times reports that this figure has reached $330bn.

There are only two profitable high speed rail lines in the world, Paris to Lyon and Tokyo to Osaka.

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