Plans for a new high-speed rail (HSR) line which could eventually pass through Cumbria were submitted to the Government yesterday. High Speed Two (HS2), a company set up by Whitehall to complete the task, has produced a blueprint for the first phase of the line, from a new station in London to the West Midlands. However, the exact route, which has been plotted to within 18 inches, will not be made public until March. Less detailed plans for the second phase of the scheme, which will probably pass through Cumbria to Scotland, have also been submitted.
Trains are not expected to stop in Cumbria, although local politicians are lobbying for them to do so. The development of west Cumbria’s energy coast, including potentially three new nuclear power stations, is expected to strengthen the county’s case. The area is steadily becoming less economically depressed, and this is set to continue in the future with the rise in proposed projects in the county, which are expected to offer an increase in mechanical engineering jobs and design engineering jobs.
The line will almost certainly pass through the picturesque Chilterns, in Buckinghamshire, and on to the West Midlands. HS2 has also given full details of how this line, using new 400-metre long trains capable of carrying 1,100 passengers, could be financed. If the plans are approved, work could start on the line by 2017, with the route being operational by 2025. There could be as many as 18 trains an hour on the route, with 20,000 passengers travelling in and out of London every 60 minutes.
If the Government decides to go ahead with the project, it will publish the report alongside a White Paper at the end of March. Lord Adonis, the Secretary of State for Transport, said: “This is an important report which will shape the future of HSR in this country. HSR has real potential to regenerate and reinvigorate. Our high-speed network lags behind that of many of our European neighbours and doesn’t connect any of our major cities, but this report could change that.” He went on: “I am excited about the possibilities that HSR has to transform transport in this country for the better, providing environmental benefits, encouraging investment and boosting business and jobs.
The enormity of this project means that it is set to create more jobs in the future. Not just those such as design engineering jobs and mechanical engineering jobs needed during the building of the line, but operational jobs once the scheme is fully implemented.
Lord Adonis finished by saying: “Scrutiny of the report will begin immediately.”
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