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UK Government to Announce Next Steps for High Speed Rail in March 2010

The UK Government will set out its next steps for the future of high speed rail in Britain by the end of March 2010, Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said as he saw the start of full service on Britain’s first high speed line.

New high speed trains are serving 22 towns and cities using the new £5.8 billion (US$9.4 billion) line.

High Speed Two—the company set up to advise on the development of high speed rail services between London and Scotland—will deliver its report to the Government by the end of the year.

The report will be the most detailed examination ever undertaken of how to take forward high speed rail in Britain. It will present a detailed route plan for the first stage of a north-south high-speed line, from London to the West Midlands, as well as options for extending high-speed services, and high speed lines, to destinations further north, including the North West, the East Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.

If the Government decides to pursue proposals for high speed rail, it will publish a white paper by the end of March 2010. The white paper will set out detailed plans for new high-speed rail lines and services, including route proposals, timescales and associated financial, economic, and environmental assessments. This would be followed by a full public consultation starting in the Autumn of 2010, giving all interested parties an opportunity to comment before the proposals are finalized.

HS2’s business case will be supported by technical assessments, including demand forecasts and an assessment of the potential for shifting journeys to high-speed rail from air and road. For the route between London and the West Midlands, HS2’s report will include; design specifications; environmental assessments; and, costs, funding and delivery structures.

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