Rail plans revealed

PLANS for high speed trains in the North East would slash journey times and improve connections, a Government minister has pledged.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has proposed routes and locations of new stations in Yorkshire, the West Midlands, North West, and East Midlands areas of the country.

It comes as Mr McLoughlin, Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne underlined the Government’s commitment to investing in the rail infrastructure.

The scheme, called HS2, will see trains being compatible with existing railway and therefore able to run off the 225mph high-speed lines to serve a range of other towns and cities including Durham and Darlington.

And the 211-mile northern phase of the rail plan would be expected to be open in 2032 at the latest, six years after the 140-mile southern phase, in London and Birmingham, would be completed.

Consultation on the proposed routes published yesterday will be brought forward to start this year, rather than next.

Mr McLoughlin said: “High Speed Rail is an unparalleled opportunity to secure a step-change in Britain’s competitiveness and this Government will do everything possible to ensure that Durham and Darlington benefits by getting the connections they need and deserve to thrive.

“HS2 will be woven into the transport fabric of the nation, accessible to all, including those in Durham and Darlington, and I believe these proposed routes north of Birmingham offer a great starting point for the consultation process to follow.”