UK government proposes high-speed rail link

By Chris Sleight12 March 2010

The UK government has proposed the construction of a high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham. The scheme is part of a new national high-speed rail strategy that could see the Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield connected to London.

The next step in the process will be taken after the UK general election, due this summer, but both main political parties have voiced their support for a national high-speed rail network.

If the 200 km London to Birmingham link goes ahead, construction is unlikely to start before 2019, and the budget for the scheme is put at UK£ 15,8 billion (€ 17,4 billion) and UK£ 17,4 billion (€ 19,3 billion) at today's prices. The line could open in 2026.

With trains running at up to 360 km/h, journey times between the two cities would be cut by 30 minutes to just 49 minutes.

However, the plans have been criticised in some quarters because the route will pass through the Chiltern Hills, and area to the north-west of London that has been designated an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' by the UK government since 1965.

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