High-speed rail link plans unveiled

An ambitious plan for a £30bn, London-Scotland high-speed rail link is being put forward by a group of local authorities.

Proposed by the 2M Group, made up of local councils opposed to the Heathrow Airport expansion, the scheme would see a fast train route established in stages up to 2030.

The line would not only link to Heathrow Airport in west London but would also connect to High Speed 1 - the 186mph fast link from London to the Channel Tunnel.

This would enable the new north-south line to take passengers from Scotland, northern England and the Midlands direct to major cities in Europe.

Passengers would be able to travel from, say, Sheffield to Paris in just over three hours, while Glasgow to Paris would be five hours, Manchester-Amsterdam just over four hours and Leeds-Frankfurt five-and-a-half hours.

There would also be extensive links from Heathrow to suburban routes in the Home Counties.

The 2M Group believes the plan, devised by civil engineer Colin Elliff, would make it much easier for people to travel to Heathrow by rail and would reduce the need for internal connecting flights at the airport.

The plan differs from similar proposals in that it aims to connect more UK cities and ensures Heathrow is fully joined to the new network.

Edward Lister, leader of Wandsworth Council in south west London, one of the local authorities within the 2M Group, said: "We are delighted to publish the proposals because we want a debate.

"It's time for some imagination in UK transport planning. We don't pretend for one minute we have all the answers, but at least we're asking the right questions."

Richmond Council leader Serge Lourie added: "The country's roads are grinding to a halt and all ministers want to do is put more planes in the sky and more cars on the ground. The real demand is for sustainable transport options that actually help people and businesses move around the country."

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