Take the train not the plane

Council backs plan for high speed rail links serving a dozen UK cities

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The 2M Group today published a new study which shows that many domestic and short haul flights could be made by rail.

The High Speed North proposal would provide a new fast link between London and Scotland.

Unlike other high speed rail solutions the new option is based on a single spine route running initially from London to the East and West Midlands alongside the M1.

The scheme also calls for dramatic improvements in public transport access to Heathrow with links to the new high speed network.

Making it easier for people in Scotland and the North to travel to Heathrow by rail would reduce the need for internal connecting flights.

The new route would provide direct connections from other parts of the UK to a growing network of European cites including Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Lyon. It would create dozens of new rail city break options including Sheffield to Paris in just over three hours.

Other new routes could include Glasgow to Paris in five hours, Manchester to Amsterdam in just over four hours and Leeds to Frankfurt in five and a half.

High Speed North is the latest in a series of schemes which aim to bring European-style high speed rail services to the UK. It differs from previous options – principally in the way it aims to connect more UK cities and ensures Heathrow is fully joined up to the new network.

2M leaders at today's launch said ministers' obsession with building more airport runways made them look increasingly out of touch with modern transport needs:

Wandsworth leader Edward Lister said, "We are delighted to publish the High Speed North proposals because we want a debate. We have a government that can't see further than the next runway. It's time for some imagination in UK  transport planning. We don't pretend for one minute we have all the answers but at least we're asking the right questions."

HACAN's John Stewart said, "We have already seen how the new line from St Pancras has drawn trade from the airlines. If high speed rail is to work it has to work for all parts of the country – it can't just be about London. When people from Edinburgh and Glasgow and Leeds and Liverpool can take the train to Europe then we really start to plan for life without a third Heathrow runway."

The new blueprint has been devised by civil engineer Colin Elliff. It was published today by the 2M Group as part of its contribution to the national debate on transportation policy.


The 2M Group is an all-party alliance of local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities. The group, which took its name from the 2 million residents of the original 12 members, now represents 21 authorities with a combined population of 4.5 million people.

The full membership comprises the London Boroughs of Brent, Camden, Ealing, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, Sutton, Southwark and Wandsworth, the boroughs of Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead and South Bucks District Council.

August 1, 2008