UK high-speed rail network to cost £30bn

PLANS to build a high-speed rail network connecting London with Northern Britain were revealed yesterday by transport secretary Andrew Adonis, in a project expected to cost £30bn.

Adonis laid out his proposals for the 335 mile “Y” shaped line, which is expected to significantly cut travel time to the West Midlands, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield from London.

The government said that estimated costs for the network were due to expensive construction fees in the UK and that Infrastructure UK was looking at ways to reduce the figure.

Adonis said: “Over the next 30 years, the UK will require a step-change in transport capacity... this must be delivered sustainably, without unacceptable environment impacts, and in line with the government’s strategy to promote a low carbon economy.”

Adonis said the first phase of building the rail network is to link London and Birmingham, with further consultation on the remainder of the line beginning in two years.

The government is expecting to begin construction in 2017 with the completion of the first phase to come in 2026.

“A high speed rail network will increase Britain’s productivity, allow our urban economies to create more jobs and, as a result, increase national annual tax receipts,” said Richard Threlfall, UK head of transport at KPMG.

The news comes on the same day that Network Rail maintenance workers voted 77 per cent in favour of a strike over new working practices.