In a lot of my writing on high speed rail, i always try to refer to a national high speed rail network and that HS2 is phase 2 of this (very long term) project.
We have HS1 linking mainland Europe with Kent and London. HS2 (phase 1) takes that link on to the West Midlands and then (Phase 2) goes on to Manchester and Leeds (via South Yorks and East Mids) along with Heathrow Airport.
What would the HS3 project be and the following major projects? Well, here’s my take:
HS3 needs to finish the job of HS2 and go from Manchester through Lancashire to Cumbria and Glasgow on the Western route, and on the Eastern route from Leeds to the North East and Edinburgh. The Scottish links must be made, this is essential to really crack on with moving all domestic air travel onto our high speed rail network.
HS4? Well this is a bit of a cheat. The Great Western Main Line should be upgraded while electrifying to enable 140mph+ running to connect Old Oak Common/Heathrow with Bristol, South Wales and the South West. This is a crucial part of the country that is overlooked but absolutely vital for connectivity and economic and environmental benefits for the national network.
HS5 is easy now as this is then connecting the HS4 from Bristol up to Birmingham and then on to Phase 2 of HS2 – shock! a high speed rail line that does not involve London!!!
HS6 – East Anglia, Norwich into East London at Stratford – again a fully connected high speed rail network covering swathes of the country and releasing capacity across our existing network for more freight and local/regional/commuter services.
So for example we can see Edinburgh/Newcastle/Leeds/Birmingham/Bristol/Exeter services on the HS3, HS2, HS5 and HS4 lines – connecting cities across the UK. Or Norwich/London Stratford/Reading/Bristol/Cardiff on the HS6, HS2, HS4 lines – connecting our major cities and their regional economies, removing the need for domestic flights and also reducing motorway traffic and road freight movements.
The point is, we need to look far into the future and plan that far ahead so that we ensure we are optimising the designs of todays long term mega projects.