NETWORK Rail is putting together a business case to justify an East Coast high-speed rail line.
Train bosses want to set out for the Government the arguments for investment in a new line up to Newcastle and to Scotland.
Last month they made the case for a multi-billion pound route up the West coast, a move which transport groups in Tyneside say would “suck the life blood” out of the region’s economy.
Paul Plummer, director of planning and regulation at Network Rail, said that while capacity issues were greater on the West coast, there was still a good argument for the North East.
Speaking before delegates at Labour’s party conference in Brighton, he said: “We believe the most urgent need is for cities along the London, Birmingham, Manchester route, and we have made recommendations to the Government that this should be the first stage. But we are looking at the case for another new line on the East coast, linking Leeds and Newcastle, and we will feed that into High Speed 2.”
He added: “We have to continue to invest in the existing railways, indeed our business case for new lines depends fundamentally on using the existing railways.”