The 2M group, an all-party alliance of authorities opposed to further expansion at Heathrow, has launched it’s plan for improved rail links at the airport, which they say negates the need for a third runway.
The £30 billion plan would see new high speed rail links to the North and Scotland, and to the Channel Tunnel, preserving Heathrow’s ability to connect intercontinental passengers to domestic UK destinations, and onwards to Europe.
However, the Dept for Transport told the BBC: “It is false to suggest that the need for expansion at Heathrow would be negated by investment in high speed rail. Our investment in railways has already reduced domestic and short haul flights, but some people will need to fly because they are using Heathrow as a connection to another country.”
The DfT is spending £10bn over the next 5 years on increasing capacity on the rail network by 20%, they added.
The 2M proposal includes:
- A main route connecting London with Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow
- Branches connecting cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool
- Up to 40 trains an hour running between Heathrow and other parts of the South East
Disappointingly, there is no direct connection to the High Speed line at Heathrow, instead, passengers would travel on a series of lines radiating from Heathrow, changing where appropriate.
The key north London hub would be a new Cricklewood Interchange. This would provide an international connection to Europe via High Speed One avoiding the need for a stop at St Pancras International. It would also link to services on the new High Speed North, Midland Main Line and Thameslink.
The southern arm would comprise the currently proposed Airtrack link to Staines and Woking. This would radically improve links to outer suburban areas.
The current Heathrow Express line to the east would extend with Crossrail to the City and beyond, and link more effectively to the suburban rail network.
The western arm would connect to Slough and Reading and provide onward connections to Wales and the West Country.
The plan works on the principle that the more cities that can be brought within a three hour rail journey of London, the more likely it is that people will choose the train over the plane. Experience in Europe confirms that flying loses its appeal when the same journey can be made by rail within this three-hour threshold.
The full north-south line would be built in phases. The first section would run from London to Leicester with a branch to Birmingham; it would connect to both West Coast and Midland Main Lines.
The second phase would extend from Leicester along the M1/M18 corridor and connect to the East Coast Main Line in Yorkshire.
The third phase could extend from Sheffield to Leeds, and follow the disused Woodhead corridor to Manchester. This would require the former rail tunnel here to be re-opened for high speed track.
The final stages would extend to Liverpool along the M62 corridor and shadow the East Coast Main Line and M8 corridors to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
For more on the 2M group, visit http://www.2mgroup.org.uk/.