Stockton's Infinity Bridge

High speed rail boost for the North East

24 March 2011

A new high speed rail network would make the North East more competitive and prosperous thanks to journey time savings, better connectivity and the extra capacity it will deliver, Transport Minister Theresa Villiers will tell business and civic leaders in Newcastle.

The Government is proposing a Y-shaped high speed rail network stretching from London to Manchester and Leeds, and from there connections on to existing lines would enable direct high speed services to Newcastle, cutting current typical journey times from London to Newcastle by around half an hour. A direct link to Heathrow will enable passengers to travel from Newcastle city centre to the country's biggest and busiest airport in around two and a half hours.

Transport Minister Theresa Villiers said: "High speed rail is a once-in-a-generation chance to bring our leading cities closer together and deliver the growth, jobs and investment that will be crucial to the future prosperity of this country.

"That is why business and civic leaders across the country - including in the North East - have already come out in favour of high speed rail.

"The North East would share in the massive economic boost high speed rail will give the whole of the north of England, allowing it to benefit much more directly from the global pull of London and the South East and making a real difference in tackling the long-standing gap between prosperity in the north and south."

The Department for Transport estimates the cost of the complete Y-shaped network at £32bn and expects it to generate economic benefits of around £44bn and fare revenues of around £27bn over a 60-year period.

The proposed network would be delivered in two phases - the first a line from London to the West Midlands, and the second the onward legs to Manchester and Leeds.

The Government is currently holding a public consultation into its proposals for high speed rail which runs until 29th July 2011.

Cllr Watson, Chair of the Association of North East Councils, said: "There is a compelling case for the North East to be linked into a high speed rail network, in which economic growth and re-balancing the economy rank as highly as faster journey times and increased capacity.

"The Government's proposals for high speed rail are an ambitious and visionary approach to future transport investment, which have real potential to create opportunities for all parts of the country to develop and prosper. Given the predominance of large urban centres of population and cities along the length of the East Coast, we very much welcome the Government's decision to consult on a route, which looks at options for the East and West Coast. New transport infrastructure with connections to the North East will be crucial in helping us maximise our assets and achieve our economic development aspirations, both for this area of the country and in the national interest."

For further information please contact Bethan Hughes, Communications Officer, on 0191 261 3917, email bethan.hughes@northeastcouncils.gov.uk