Plans for huge new rail station in central London

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The Independent Online

A huge new station in the heart of London will be proposed in north-south, high-speed rail line plans which will be submitted this week to the Government.

The station would be capable of handling 14, and eventually 18, trains an hour, with 20,000 passengers travelling in and out every 60 minutes.

The 400-metre long trains, which could travel at 250mph, will be able to carry 1,100 passengers, with the first stage of the new line - from London to the West Midlands - possibly opening in 2025.

The report going to ministers is from the High Speed 2 (HS2) company which was set up by the Government to identify a buildable route, with station options, for a high-speed train service from London to the West Midlands.

HS2 will present options for possible connections to Heathrow Airport and to the Channel Tunnel rail link, now known as High Speed 1 (HS1).

The report will also consider broad route options from the West Midlands to Scotland.

The HS2 team looked at 35 possible sites in London for the high-speed terminus and have settled for a site right in the centre of the capital.

Ministers will be presented with a minutely detailed route - accurate to within 18 inches - for the line as far north as the West Midlands.

This will be a new line which will hug the contours of the land, with noise and visual impact being reduced as much as possible.

HS2, which sees the high-speed trains as "aeroplanes on wheels", will also present a range of costs for the line, of which construction could start in 2017, with the line opening towards the end of 2025.

HS2 will be less specific about the route and costs of extending the line beyond the West Midlands.

The London to West Midlands route will contain some tunnels - something which always adds considerably to the cost of a road or rail project.

HS2 chief executive Alison Munro said: "We were asked to look at linking with (the cross-London rail scheme) Crossrail, the Great Western main line and with Heathrow

"The report will set out a case for various options including a possible link with HS1. The proposals will include running trains from the HS2 on to the West Coast Main Line.

"This will not be a transport project in isolation. The final report will look at how the line will help housing and regional economic development. There will be significant levels of detail."

The HS2 team realises that there will be much demand from each region to be included on the high-speed route.

Ms Munro said: "You don't want to stop your high-speed trains at numerous stations along the way."

HS2 will present the facts in an impartial way. HS2 chief engineer Andrew McNaughton said: "We are not here to promote high-speed rail. We are not cheer leaders. We are evaluators."

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis will publish the report in spring 2010. If the Government decides to pursue proposals for high-speed rail, it will publish a White Paper by the end of March 2010.

The White Paper will set out detailed plans for new high-speed rail lines and services, including route proposals, timescales and associated financial, economic and environmental assessments.

This would be followed by a full public consultation, starting next autumn, giving all interested parties an opportunity to comment before the proposals are finalised.