Network Rail to consider New High Speed Lines

22 June 2008

Network Rail is considering five new lines covering each corner of the UK as part of a review of the British rail network. The new infrastructure could amount to the largest track build since the 19th century and it is hoped that it will relieve congestion on some of the UK’s busiest lines.


The lines being considered include the Great Western main line to Cardiff and Penzance, Midland main line to Sheffield, West Coast line to Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, the East Coast line to Edinburgh, and the Chiltern route to Birmingham.


The review is also reported to be looking at the possibility of high speed rail similar to that of the French TGV which regularly achieves speeds of up to 186 mph. This could reduce the travelling time from London to Cardiff to 45 minutes. If the review is positive and the necessary investment is raised, the new lines could be running by 2025.


The new report has been commissioned in light of figures showing an increase in rail travel of about 40% since 1946 and predictions of an additional 30% in the next 10 years.


Network Rail is hoping to announce the consultancy firm hired to conduct the research by the end of July with the report being published by next summer.


Keith Norman says, ‘ASLEF has long supported the building of high-speed lines to improve journeys, reduce congestion and offer a low carbon alternative to domestic flights. In last year’s White Paper it seemed the government had little enthusiasm for the project. If this is not the case, then I am delighted. This could also be very encouraging news for freight, if it were to free up track capacity.’

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