Sir: Christian Wolmar is right to extol the virtues of high-speed rail travel, the particular benefits of city centre to city centre travel, and rail's crucial role in helping to regenerate our large cities ("Trains signal start of ground battle with airlines", 15 November). He refers to the extent of investment in new high-speed lines across Europe. In Britain, only the new 68-mile route from London, St Pancras to the Channel tunnel is planned.
I would suggest that now is the right time to begin to consider a northwards extension of this new high-speed link. The first phase could link the new line immediately north of the Thames crossing at Rainham with Rugby on the West Coast Line. Connections with the East Coast and Midland Lines could be made where it crosses them. In this way all major cities north of London could be connected directly to the European rail network. Built to the larger European loading gauge much freight could transfer from road to rail.
The West Coast Line is badly in need of refurbishment. Whether it could be improved to become a fully fledged high-speed line seems questionable. So my proposal also provides a method of providing a high-speed alternative to the West Coast Line between Rugby and London for domestic journeys.
Principal Research Officer
Sheffield City Council
16 NovemberReuse content