Byline: By Peter Woodman
A plan for a new north-south pounds 30 billion high speed rail line to Europe will be unveiled next week by councils opposed to Heathrow airport expansion.
Running along the line of the M1, the route would be linked to the West Midlands and make it easier for people in Scotland and northern England to reach Heathrow, reducing the need for connecting flights.
European links via the Channel Tunnel would mean travelers could get from Sheffield to Paris in three hours, Manchester to Amsterdam in four hours and Leeds to Frankfurt in five-and-a-half hours.
The plan, which could be completed by 2030, is being unveiled on Monday by the 2M Group-an all-party alliance of authorities unhappy about development plans at Heathrow.
The group says its plan differs from other high-speed proposals in aiming to connect more UK cities and ensures Heathrow is fully joined to the new network.
Drawn up by chartered civil engineer Colin Elliff the plan envisages:
an England-Scotland spine route with spur connections to outlying cities
the spine would follow the M1 from London and serve Leicester, Nottingham, Shef-field, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh en route to Glasgow
spurs would reach major cites in the Midlands and northern England including Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool
it would be built in phases with the first section from London to Leicester, with a branch to Birmingham and connecting to the existing West Coast and Midland Main lines
the second phase would extend from Leicester along the M1/M18 corridor and connect to the East Coast Main Line in Yorkshire
the third phase could extend from Sheffield to Leeds, and follow the disused Wood head line to Manchester.
This would require the former rail tunnel here to be re-opened
the final stages would extend to Liverpool along the M62 corridor and shadow the East Coast Main Line and M8 corridors to Edinburgh and Glasgow
there will also be Heathrow compass points, with up to 40 trains an hour dispersing Heathrow passengers to Home Counties destinations and linking with main line services Edwards Lister, leader of Wands worth Council which is part of the 2M Group, said: "We are delighted to publish these proposals because we want a debate. …