Network Rail is proposing a new £34bn high-speed railway line between Scotland and London by 2030.
The new High Speed 2 line aims to cut journey times between London and Glasgow to just two hours and 16 minutes. It would also serve Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh, and trains would operate at 200mph.
The line would become the country’s second high-speed rail link after the line used by Eurostar that runs from London St Pancras to the Channel Tunnel. However High Speed 2 still needs approval from the government, which is conducting its own rail network review.
Rail passengers would also be able to get to Manchester in 83 minutes, from 128 minutes now. London and Birmingham times would be cut to 45 minutes, from a best time of 82 minutes currently.
Network Rail said the new line would require more than 1,500 miles of rail, as well as 138 bridges over roads and current railway lines.
Network Rail says the new line is required to ease the pressure on Britain’s railways. It says passenger numbers have rocketed by 40% over the past decade, and that by 2024, many existing lines will be at full capacity.
In an interview with the BBC, Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said: “Virtually every other major developed country in the world has now built high-speed lines. And all those that started building them between their major cities have extended them now to cover large parts of their country,” he said.
“There’s a general acceptance that if we’re going to meet additional transport demand over the next 40 or 50 years, then that can’t be by building more motorways or having a lot more short-haul aviation.”
Network Rail said it had rejected routes that would have taken the new line via Leeds and Newcastle upon Tyne, as well as a route that included Leicester and Sheffield and another option through Bristol and Cardiff.
It based its decision on a 12-month study involving 20,000 hours of work and more than 1,500 pages of analysis.
The firm said that the line would account for 43.7 million journeys per year by 2030, which would result in 3.8 million fewer vehicle journeys and fewer carbon dioxide emissions.