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28 October 2014updated 26 Sep 2015 7:31am

Forget HS3, “Transport for the North” was the real meat of the government’s announcement

North Rhine-Westphalia could provide a model.

By Jonn Elledge

From our sister site, CityMetric:

Yesterday, Britain’s trainspotters got very excited when transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin officially announced that the government would begin planning for “HS3”. If it goes ahead, this upgraded link across the Pennines would halve journey times between Manchester and Leeds to just 24 minutes. It would, McLoughlin humbly claimed, “transform the economic geography of the country”.

This is all very lovely – but it’s also a long way off. All the government has actually committed itself to do is “develop proposals”: at this stage, it’s not even clear if HS3 would be a new line, or a set of upgrades to existing ones.

Even if it does happen, the new line won’t actually be that HS (around 125mph, compared to the 225mph for the less misleadingly named High Speed 2 project). Manchester and Leeds are only around 40 miles apart. That makes a mockery of the existing 50 minute journey time, but it also renders really high speed trains a bit pointless. By the time they’d finished accelerating, it’d be time to slow down again.

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The more important bit of yesterday’s announcement might have been the promise to create “Transport for the North” (TfN): a new body bringing together representatives of the five big northern cities to plan a region-wide transport network.

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