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Plans for high speed rail outlined

Birmingham and London could be the first UK cities to be linked by a domestic high speed rail service according to a body set up to promote such schemes.

Greengauge 21, a group of rail specialists established in 2006 to look at the development of high speed rail links across the UK, proposed the London-Birmingham link at the Railway Forum’s high speed rail conference last Friday.

The organisation will investigate funding options as well as consulting widely on developing five high speed rail corridors:

  • London, Birmingham, Manchester;

  • London, Cambridge north-east;

  • London, Bristol/Cardiff

  • Trans-Pennine

  • Anglo-Scottish

Greengauge 21 director Jim Steer said: “This programme is designed to answer the questions that ministers and others raise about high-speed rail. We start from a perspective that this is all about achieving sustainable growth for the economy of Britain as a whole, rather than just a narrow concern about rail capacity, important though that issue will no doubt continue to be.”

Speaking at the conference in Birmingham, Eurostar chief executive Richard Brown said that the next step would be finding a political champion to back the case for high speed rail.

He said: “There are two things we need to do. The industry needs to make the case for it, which we’re in the process of doing. We also have to build up a broad coalition of organisations and people who share the same view.

“There are enough far sighted people in this country that someone will come and pick it up.”

The Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats have both pledged their support to the idea.