Network Rail has today welcomed the Government’s announcement on the proposed route of HS2 phase 2 as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform both the railway and connectivity in this country.
Once complete, the new line will provide much-needed extra capacity on Britain’s busiest rail lines and help boost economic growth through better connections between our biggest cities.
David Higgins, Network Rail chief executive said: “A new high speed network is as essential to Britain’s prosperity as it is to the railway. The railways don’t just move people and freight; they create jobs, connect economic centres and open up new markets.
“Unprecedented growth in the last ten years has seen passenger journeys grow by 50 per cent to almost 1.5bn a year and that number is set to continue to grow. More people use the railways today than at any time since the Second World War, on a network half the size it was then.
“We are already delivering the biggest capacity improvement programme since the Victorian era, but even this is not enough. Without HS2 the West Coast Main Line – our busiest and most economically important line – will be full in a little over a decade. This is a rare chance to stop playing catch-up on capacity. If we get ahead of the game we can create huge opportunities for growth and connectivity.
“HS2 could be that rarest of things – a genuine game-changer for the railway. It can transform long distance travel, improve daily commutes on existing lines and create space on the network for passengers and freight to transfer from congested roads to an expanded railway.
Commenting on plans for the integration of HS2 into Britain’s existing rail network, Mr Higgins continued: “This is not a bolt-on piece of infrastructure. HS2 will be at the heart of a reshaped rail network in Britain. To spread the benefits of HS2 to as many people as possible, we will need seamless integration. We are already planning how HS2 will integrate with the existing railway, supporting development of plans that will keep as many trains running during construction as possible and planning future train services that make best use of the capacity on both high speed and existing lines.”