It said such a line, missing out Doncaster, would free up capacity on the East Coast Main Line and avoid the potential of an east-west divide on high-speed rail services, which is feared under the Government’s current plans.
The report, called East, West, North and South, aims to “join the dots” between the announcements made in the recent Integrated Rail Plan and those in the follow-up Union Connectivity Review, which examined how to better connect the different nations of the United Kingdom.
It states both reports called for the upgrading of the East Coast Main Line and said that work must now be a priority to prevent an imbalance between eastern England and the west, where the HS2 route is now chiefly focused.
The report goes on to suggest one way of improving links for Yorkshire and Humber and the North-East would be improvements on existing track between Nottingham and Newark and the building of a new high-speed line – which they are dubbing HS3 – running from Newark up to Yorkshire and then splitting into different directions for Leeds and York.
The report says: “The existing line through Nottingham to Newark (where it meets the East Coast Main Line) needs to be upgraded to Intercity (200km/h) standards. With a new junction at/near Newark, this will allow HS2 trains from London and potentially cross-country trains from south of Birmingham to access the East Coast Main Line.
“With additional demand for capacity on this line north of Newark, there is a good business case to provide a new high-speed line to bypass constraints that will otherwise materialise at the key hub of Doncaster.
“All East Coast intercity services could be speeded up as a result.
“This joined-up plan allows HS2 to provide hugely valuable capacity relief to the busy southern section of the East Coast Main Line and HS3 to speed up journeys further north.
“It provides a natural way to add Bradford, as well as Leeds, (and York-Newcastle) to the cities served by HS2 – and this can be achieved as soon as the shortened HS2 eastern arm is available, using the existing East Coast Main Line, with HS3 to follow).
“It also allows the Y-shaped HS2 network in effect to become X-shaped, using the connection through Birmingham.”
The report adds: “The National Infrastructure Commission noted in 2020 that ‘it is worth emphasising the scale of work involved... particularly
strategic alternatives to the full eastern arm of HS2 if these are to be considered.’
“To which we would add: the benefits could be very much greater than with the original HS2 eastern arm concept.”
The report did not go into any estimate of the potential cost.
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