UK Government

Department for Transport (National): Proposed high speed rail network North of Birmingham confirmed

Press Release   •   Oct 04, 2010 12:40 BST

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has today announced which network option the Government prefers for taking high speed rail north of Birmingham.

The Government will consult early next year on building a ‘Y’ shaped high speed rail network with separate legs from the West Midlands to each of Manchester and Leeds. A Y shaped route would allow the East Midlands and South Yorkshire to be served by the high speed rail network, as well as Leeds, Manchester and the North West.

Philip Hammond said:

"We have committed to a high speed rail network that will change the social and economic geography of Britain; connecting our great population centres and our international gateways; transforming the way Britain works as profoundly as the coming of the original railways did in the mid-19th century.

"So we will consult in the New Year on the strategic roll-out of a High Speed Rail network and on our preferred route for the first leg between London and Birmingham.

"But I can announce today that the Government’s preferred option for High Speed Rail north of Birmingham will be for two separate corridors. One direct to Manchester, and then connecting on to the West Coast Mainline, and the other via the East Midlands and South Yorkshire – with stations in both areas – before connecting to the East Coast Mainline north of Leeds. The so-called “Y” option.

"Giving us High Speed Rail connectivity – not just between London and Birmingham, but onwards to Leeds and Manchester. A strategic project that will make rail the mode of choice for most inter-city journeys within the UK, and for many beyond."

Mr Hammond has been considering advice from HS2 Ltd - the Government company set up to examine the case for high speed rail - on the relative benefits of the 'Y' route against a 'reverse S' shaped route from Birmingham to Manchester and then across the Pennines to Leeds. HS2 Ltd found that the Y network would deliver a total of £25 billion more benefits than the reverse S.

HS2 Ltd published detailed route proposals for a high speed rail line from London to Birmingham earlier this year. Work is currently underway to refine the preferred route identified in that report and the Secretary of State will set out the Government’s final preferred route for consultation later this year.

Notes to editors

1. The Government has concluded that the “Y” route would offer greater relative benefits than the alternative 'reverse S' route option. These include:

(i) faster journey times to Leeds and the North East;

(ii) ability to serve additional markets such as East Midlands and South Yorkshire;

(iii) over 40,000 more trips daily; and

(iv) the ability to generate far greater released capacity on the Midland and East Coast main lines, benefiting commuter and regional markets.

2. The Y option also has a stronger business case, stemming from both higher projected transport benefits (around £15bn greater) and revenue (around £10bn greater).

3. The chosen network option will be included in the consultation on the Government’s strategy for high speed rail, planned for the early part of 2011. And subject to the outcome of this consultation and further detailed work by HS2 Ltd, there would then be a detailed consultation on the line of route for Leeds and Manchester.

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