26 June 2008

Fund announced for high speed rail research

UK high speed rail pressure group Greengauge 21 announced a £750,000 strategy development programme at a Rail Forum event in Birmingham on 13 June.

The case for building high speed railways in the UK will be developed using funding raised by a consortium of rail industry and 'regional, city and other public bodies', which have formed a public interest group to oversee the work.

Greengauge 21 director Jim Steer said that the group's aim is to develop a national high speed rail strategy, identify the technical standards that should apply in Britain, investigate funding options, and 'consult widely on the conclusions reached by earlier studies and on the outcome of this programme.'

This will 'answer the questions that ministers and others raise about high-speed rail', according to Steer. 'We start from a perspective that this is all about achieving sustainable growth for the economy of Britain as a whole, rather than just a narrow concern about rail capacity'.

Consultancy Steer Davies Gleave has undertaken a study on behalf of Birmingham City Council and Greengauge 21 into the potential benefits of a high speed line between London and Birmingham. Journey times could be cut from 1:20 around 0:45, with 'significant productivity gains to the national and regional economy'. Forecasts using government guidance suggest GDP gains over 60 years of more than £5bn at 2002 prices.