This is a scheme to give Manchester Victoria, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Birmingham and Coventry a high-speed main line to each other, to two regional airports, to Cambridge, to Stansted Airport and to a London terminus. More and sooner than HS2, it would help the cities of the North and Midlands grow and the UK economy become less London-centric.
The London terminus would not be Euston but Stratford, with its many tube and surface rail line connections to the financial districts and commuter suburbs east of London Bridge and the Stratford section of London’s east-west-Heathrow distributor, Crossrail, in-build.
NorthStart’s first trains would be similar to the Class 395 high speed commuter units operating on the HS1 route between St Pancras, Stratford and Ashford in Kent. The journey times are based on these trains, but faster EMUs are now on the market.
TGV-speed trains perform best on journeys of at least 60 miles between stops. They would appear once the Stratford to Birmingham half of the scheme reached East Midlands Airport and connected to the completed northern half of the scheme. The travel time savings of TGV-speed trains could then make ticket cost sense.
The Birmingham-Coventry-Corby-Cambridge-Stansted-Stratford route was added to the NorthStart scheme on 6 January 2013. The map-line for the North-South Divide, from the Severn Estuary to The Wash, was calculated by Prof Dorling and colleagues in 2010. See The Economic Geography of the UK: www.sagepublications.com
London Stratford to Birmingham
NorthStart’s high speed London-Birmingham route would connect Cambridge to the financial power of London and the manufacturing companies of the Midlands. It would use the Lea Valley line corridor north from Stratford, turning onto high speed track to cross the M11 into Stansted Airport, then tracking the motorway north to Duxford Air Museum. Leaving Cambridge westwards, it would run with the A14 upgrade west towards Corby-Kettering, the M6 and Coventry; using the last few miles of the safeguarded HS2 route into Birmingham. The scheme would create added economic benefit if it ran on west to Telford.
HS62 would be the high speed Crossrail between Manchester Victoria and Leeds. It would track the M62 Motorway east from Rochdale through the Pennine Moors. It has scope for commuter stops at Rochdale and at Jn.24 of the M62 for Halifax and Huddersfield. HS21 on the map would be the scheme’s north-south main line.
West Coast Main Line upgrade still needed
Rail traffic in the UK is still growing. The NorthStart scheme assumes that the interim capacity shortfalls on the WCML would be met if the rail route between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly were upgraded to take 12 carriage trains, with one car in each changing to Standard Class from First Class. See Chris Stokes in Quotes. NorthStart’s high speed main line from London Stratford to Manchester Victoria would follow.
Rail miles between NorthStart-1 and NorthStart-2 stations
|Man Vic||Bradford||Leeds||Meadowhall||Sheffield||E Mid Airp|
|E Mid Airp||105||85||89||51||55||-|
Visible engineering and northern jobs
A North-first start on UK high speed rail would be an opportunity to anchor design, civil engineering, tunnel work, power supply, steel making, component supply and train making skills and jobs north of the North South Divide. In particular, it should be used as an opportunity for more visible engineering by Team GB and less cut-and-cover coyness.
So, what’s wrong with a London-first, Euston-Birmingham start ?
London is the UK’s great economic powerhouse. It has four international airports. Its commuter arteries fan out across the south of England to access a catchment population and spending power twice that of Birmingham and Manchester put together.
If HS2 is launched South-first and reaches out to bring Birmingham within an hour’s commute of London’s vastly bigger business sector, London will grow into an even bigger business draw than it is now. Birmingham and other cities north of the North South Divide will lose more ground and the chance to give the Northern economy a one-off (but lasting) boost from fast connectivity will be lost.
See Quotes: Lord Digby Jones.
Updates to follow
- A scheme for the rail links between Leeds, Bradford and Leeds-Bradford Airport.
- How the NorthStart scheme would put the heart back into Bradford
- Can the NorthStart scheme be extended to Liverpool St after Crossrail opens?