>Passengers are to face 14 years of weekend closures and longer journeys if alternative projects to HS2 are pursued, according to a government commissioned report.
The new report seen by the BBC
is not due to be released until tomorrow. The report by Network Rail
and Atkins says that upgrading existing rail lines would have a major impact on services on the East Coast, Midland and West Coast Mainlines.
This could lead to as much as a doubling of journey times between Leeds and London to four and a half hours. Upgrading existing lines would require 2,770 weekend closures and 144,000 hours of work. The report also warned that businesses and houses would have to be demolished in the process of upgrading lines. The government hopes the new report will add to the business case for HS2.
A government source told the BBC:
We need to do something because our railways are nearly full, but the alternative to HS2 is a patch and mend job that would cause 14 years of gridlock, hellish journeys and rail replacement buses.
The three main routes to the north would be crippled and the economy would be damaged.
There remains huge opposition to the controversial project from business groups and independent analysts, who fear the £42.6bn price tag for the project is an underestimate and could be better spent elsewhere.
Doubts over the projects future have been growing due to the Labour party's new found scepticism for the project, with Harriet Harman telling the BBC the coalition needs to "keep a strong eye on the costs as well as the benefits." Over the weekend Danny Alexander said he is "very confident" the project would be delivered on budget.