A Strategy for a High Speed Rail Network in Britain

A Strategy for a High Speed Rail Network in Britain


J Segal, MVA Consultancy, UK


This paper considers high speed rail in Britain. It


Only one high speed rail line has so far been constructed in Britain, linking London to the Channel Tunnel. However, there is a rapidly growing political consensus that new lines should be built: Network Rail have proposed a new high speed line from London to Birmingham and Manchester; and government has set up a company (HS2) to plan and develop a first line from London to Birmingham and beyond. This paper, however, is about an overall network strategy rather than a specific first scheme.
The paper starts by considering the objectives of a high speed rail network in Britain, and how these shape the eventual network that might be selected. The objectives were developed following a wide ranging consultation process with stakeholders and interestingly none of them specifically relate to rail. They include: mode switch from both air and car to deliver reduced carbon impacts; increasing transport capacity in critical areas, for long distance passengers journeys, shorter distance local journeys and for freight; stimulating local economies in a sustainable way (particular reducing the economic divide between London and the South East and the rest of Britain) was seen by many as the most critical objective; finally, providing benefits across a wide range of people, both geographically and by social group was important.
The paper is based on a major study for a Public Interest Group set up by Greengauge 21; the results of the study have just been published. The paper briefly describes the process for route selection, and an innovative approach to demand forecasting designed to address the specific attributes of high speed rail. The appraisal of the selected network was undertaken both using the standard (UK government) methodology and against the objectives previously identified. As a key objective was around economic benefits for the regions, these were specifically addressed using the latest land use modelling techniques, and associated agglomeration and related economic benefits.
The results of the appraisal are presented, including the wide range of benefits that accrue from a network of high speed rail. The key conclusions of the design and scope of such a network are discussed.
Finally, the proposed network strategy is shown.


Association for European Transport