The Government will set out its plans for the future of high speed rail in Britain in the Spring of 2010, Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis confirmed today as he saw the start of full service on Britain's first high speed line.
From today new high speed trains are serving 22 towns and cities using the new £5.8bn line, cutting journey times and bringing regeneration. Andrew Adonis travelled on one of the first new services to St Pancras - meeting passengers who are benefitting from the new line - before announcing that the next steps in Britain's high speed future would be set out by the end of March 2010.
Andrew Adonis said:
"The potential for high speed rail to regenerate and reinvigorate is now a reality for people in Kent, but the size of Britain's high speed network lags behind that of many of our European neighbours and doesn't connect any of our major cities.
"This month I expect to receive a report which has the potential change all that. This will require careful study and scrutiny - which will begin with immediate effect - before we can announce how we plan to take high speed rail forward in the Spring."
High Speed Two - the company set up to advise on the development of high speed rail services between London and Scotland - will deliver its report to the Government by the end of the year.
The report will be the most detailed examination ever undertaken of how to take forward high speed rail in Britain. It will present a detailed route plan for the first stage of a north-south high-speed line, from London to the West Midlands, as well as options for extending high-speed services, and high speed lines, to destinations further north, including the North West, the East Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.
If the Government decides to pursue proposals for high speed rail, it will publish a white paper by the end of March 2010. The white paper will set out detailed plans for new high-speed rail lines and services, including route proposals, timescales and associated financial, economic, and environmental assessments. This would be followed by a full public consultation starting in the Autumn of 2010, giving all interested parties an opportunity to comment before the proposals are finalised.
Notes to editors
1. The Government will not publish the HS2 report in advance of the Government’s response, as to do so would cause unnecessary blight in respect of options identified but not taken forward. The HS2 report will be published alongside the Government response.
2. HS2's business case will be supported by technical assessments, including demand forecasts and an assessment of the potential for shifting journeys to high-speed rail from air and road. For the route between London and the West Midlands, HS2’s report will include; design specifications; environmental assessments; and, costs, funding and delivery structures.
Press Enquires: 020 7944 3108
Out of Hours: 020 7944 4292
Public Enquiries: 0300 330 3000
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department