Towns and cities across the North East will benefit from faster and more frequent rail services once the new high-speed rail line is completed, even if they are not on the line itself, according to Network Rail.
Proposals include new services from Newcastle to Birmingham, and Liverpool and Edinburgh, with frequent stops along the way.
Network Rail, the body responsible for managing rail track across the country, published the plans following consultations with local authorities.
They are contained in a report looking at how the high-speed rail line known as HS2 will integrate with the existing rail network, including the East Coast Main Line, following construction of the second phase of the network, which stretches north from Birmingham in two directions, to Manchester and to Leeds.
Some existing inter-city services will be transferred on to high-speed lines – freeing up capacity on the East Coast Main Line, according to Network Rail.
High-speed services running north east from London will actually rejoin the East Coast Main Line at Church Fenton, south of York, and continue on existing track to Newcastle and Scotland, but capacity will be freed up on other parts of the East Coast line allowing new services to be created, Network Rail claimed.
Welcoming the report, North East Chamber of Commerce infrastructure specialist Mark Stephenson said: “The fact that the North East will not be on the initial HS2 route doesn’t mean that we won’t see significant improvements in our rail infrastructure as a result.
“Journey times between the region and the capital will be improved, line upgrades have been promised and with Hitachi soon to embark on a project that will see new rolling stock introduced, rail travel to and from the region should be greatly improved.
“It will also triple rail capacity, which should reduce prices.
“To secure these new routes is a major bonus and will be a real boon for the whole of the North East.”
Specific proposals in the report, called Options for the Integration of High Speed 2, include a service from Newcastle to Liverpool via Hartlepool and Sunderland, stopping at Northallerton, York, Leeds, Huddersfield, Manchester Victoria, Warrington and Liverpool. There could also be a Newcastle to Birmingham service, stopping at Sunderland, Hartlepool, Northallerton, York, Doncaster, the planned HS2 station at Sheffield Meadowhall, Sheffield, Chesterfield, an HS2 station near Derby, Burton and Tamworth.
A Newcastle to Edinburgh service would stop at Cramlington, Morpeth, Alnmouth, Berwick, Dunbar, Drem, Prestonpans and Edinburgh Waverley.
And a new service from London to Middlesbrough would run from King’s Cross to Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Retford, Doncaster, York, Northallerton, and then either Hartlepool and Sunderland or Thornaby and Middlesbrough.
According to Network Rail, the services would provide a boost to those areas’ economies. HS2 will allow trains to run at 250mph from London to Birmingham from 2026, with branches to Manchester and Leeds by 2032.