DEVELOPMENT FUNDING has been awarded to examine options to enhance the West Coast main line to accelerate services between England and Scotland following the publication of the interim report of Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph on 10 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘With some bypasses, better track and signalling, Sir Peter believes we could run services from Glasgow to London in about three hours and carry more freight too’. The current planned Glasgow to London journey time once the full HS2 network opens is 3hr 40min.

The review was commissioned by the Government last year, with a final report to be delivered this summer ahead of the Spending Review. It has been led by Sir Peter alongside an advisory panel. Sir Peter has asked Doug Oakervee and Professor Gordon Masterson to consider the feasibility, cost and timescales of a fixed link between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, also within the remit of the review.

£20 million of development funding has been committed initially on the WCML project, as well as towards examination of improved connectivity between the north coast of Wales and England and to deliver rail improvements in South East Wales, building on the recommendations of the Burns Commission concerning services on the South Wales main line (p11, January issue). These actions respond to some of the main concerns raised so far during the review’s work. A further key conclusion is the desire to reduce private vehicle usage and increase the amount of freight and passenger journeys by rail, with the interim report highlighting rail’s green credentials.

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