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'HS3' would slash journey times by half in north

Train journey times between northern English cities could be slashed by half after ministers backed plans for a third high-speed railway.

Two trains pass through Church Fenton, North Yorkshire where it is proposed the HS2 railway will link with the East Coast Mainline. Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The proposals were put forward in a report from the head of the £50 billion HS2 high-speed rail project, Sir David Higgins.

The improvements would cover an east-west section of northern England and would be in addition to the north-of-Birmingham phase two of HS2 which will see a Y-shaped route going to Manchester and Leeds.

Sir David said northern connectivity plans - dubbed "HS3" and backed by Chancellor George Osborne - would be "as important to the north of England as Crossrail is for London".

If carried forward, the plans would mean journey times between Leeds and Manchester could almost be cut in half.

While journeys between Leeds and Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield Meadowhall, York and Birmingham and Nottingham to Birmingham could also be reduced by a half or more, and many more journeys across the country substantially shortened.

"Improving connectivity is vital if Britain is to compete in the knowledge economy in which this country has a competitive advantage, but in which ease of travel is an essential element."

– HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins

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