In order to re-establish itself as a world leader in rail travel, the UK Government has given its full backing to the construction of a high-speed rail network.

Speaking at a conference on Growth & the Capacity Challenge on 10 March, Transport Minister Lord Andrew Adonis announced that he had written to Government advisory on high-speed rail, High Speed Two, requesting an advanced viability proposal by the end of the year.

Adonis also confirmed that High Speed Two had been instructed to ensure that the proposals were sufficiently advanced so that government could make a swift decision on starting the process of public consultation in 2010.

High Speed Two is a company set up in January 2009 to advise the government on public consultation for a high-speed line from London to the West Midlands and eventually Scotland.

The Transport Minister made it clear that the plan to build a high-speed line was not some “dim and distant vision” but one for the very near future.

“Despite the economic recession, rail is an industry on the up and we don’t have to look very far ahead to see that the high speed is the future,” Adonis said. “The only issue is how fast we embrace it.

“A high-speed line will provide faster journey times to the West Midlands and beyond, linking our major economic centres and communities, and will free up capacity on the existing rail network.”

Adonis said that the UK would be looking at advanced high-speed projects around the world.

“High-speed rail is already advanced elsewhere in Europe as well as in Japan,” he added. “The US, which hasn’t traditionally invested in rail projects, is also investing in high speed and the UK will be following a similar trajectory.”

By Daniel Garrun.