Britain’s high-speed rail network could be £20 billion
cheaper than billed and could pay for itself under radical new plans being developed
by a team of railway engineers.
Twenty one cities, and airports, including Heathrow, would
be directly connected under the High Speed UK alternative, which it claimed
would benefit more people and be greener than the government’s existing £55
billion existing HS2 plans.
Proponents say the network could be built at no cost to
taxpayers, by developing land around stations and raising local levies on
landowners who benefit – a scheme pioneered by Victorian engineers who built
London’s Metropolitan Line 150 years ago.
At the heart of the fully costed plans, which were unveiled
with maps and timetables in Birmingham on Saturday, is a super-fast line that
would run beside the M1 from London to Scotland, via Leicester and Newcastle.
This north-south spine would be linked directly to a
high-speed east-west route connecting Sheffield and Leeds to Manchester and
Liverpool along the route of former Victorian tunnels beneath the Pennines.