High-speed history

The broad route of High Speed 2 was settled early on. Given the scale of the enterprise, the question of where a new high-speed railway should go has met with general agreement across the political spectrum for the best part of a decade. Only in the past 18 months has that consensus shown signs of unravelling.

The completion of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, now High Speed 1, to an impressively re-engineered St Pancras International in 2007 gave Britain its first true high-speed line. The Strategic Rail Authority had previously mooted construction of a north-south high-speed rail line as it became clear the prolonged West Coast Route Modernisation, finally completed in late 2008 and costing more than £9 billion (more has been spent on the route since), would not provide capacity for likely future demand. The case for new rather than upgraded infrastructure was strengthened.

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