UK: Public consultation for the route of a high speed line from London to the West Midlands and eventually Scotland is expected to start next year. Announcing this in the keynote address at Railway Gazette International’s conference on Growth & the Capacity Challenge on March 10, Transport Minister Lord Andrew Adonis said that he had written on March 9 to Sir David Rowlands, Chairman of High Speed Two, requesting that advice on possible routes for the new railway should be available by the end of the year.

Adonis said that he had instructed High Speed Two to ensure the proposals were sufficiently advanced for the government to be able to take a decision on starting the process of public consultation in 2010.

Adonis remarked that the UK was now looking at the most advanced rail technology around the world, including in Japan and Europe, and the only question now was how fast we can embrace it. ‘This is quite clearly an industry on the up’, he said, ‘and the word “growth” is not misplaced.’

High Speed Two is a company set up in January to advise the government on plans for one and possibly several high speed lines. It is expected to provide the Department for Transport with a range of route options for the first line with proposals for access to central London and Heathrow and suggestions for links to High Speed One and its services to Continental Europe.