“I want us to start thinking about whether to build a new high speed rail connection east-west from Manchester to Leeds. Based on the existing rail route, but speeded up with new tunnels and infrastructure.
A third high speed railway for Britain.”
This was a blank slate chance for cities in the north to develop ideas about a new version of HS2 to go across the Penines.
Given the choice it turns out they don’t want something at all like HS2. The One North report published last week makes no mention of “High Speed 3” and only once refers to “east-west high speed rail link.”
There are plenty of mentions of a new east-west railway – it is one of the key features of the report – but the tentative design is a very long way from the design of HS2.
The speed is very different – 125 mph compared to 250mph. This is the current operating speed of the West Coast Main Line: and according to the Department of Transport anything less than 250mph is just too slow for a brand new railway.
It is proposed to carry freight – but from the start, campaigners were told that HS2 would never carry freight.
Given the choice, cities of the North aren’t after another railway designed like HS2.