The proposal from Direct City Networks (DCN) would connect cities across the north of England via a Maglev – magnetic levitation – system where vehicles hover above tracks and are propelled by magnets. DCN say the trains could reach 350mph and travel the 111 miles between Liverpool and Hull in 29 minutes via tunnels. The trip between Liverpool and Manchester would take seven minutes and the journey from Manchester to Leeds would take nine.
The service would be quicker than conventional trains due to the lack of wheels and therefore friction. Passengers would travel in pods rather than carriages, and the pods could arrive at stations every 60-90 seconds. The plan could cost over £3 billion, although DCN estimates it could increase the region’s GDP by over £1 billion a year.
There are several Maglev lines in Asia, including the Transrapid system in Shanghai, the world’s fastest commercially-operating train. It can reach speeds of 267 mph, almost 100 mph slower than the proposed top speed for the new line – and some observers were doubtful the plans could work in practice. Tony Miles, a writer for Modern Railways, said the proposal was not realistic. “I have seen similar things being discussed over the last year from what I would call the mad scientists,” he told the BBC. “What they don’t work out is the fact that accelerating to that speed and then braking again would probably vaporise the people inside the train.”
A post shared by Dong Kyu Kim (@dk___1984) on Mar 1, 2017 at 7:21pm PST
The proposal has been reviewed by Transport for the North. A spokesman said “we have responded to DCN highlighting several areas where we think substantive additional development work would be needed before any proposal could be given more detailed consideration.” A number of major rail infrastructure projects are taking place in the UK, including Crossrail, which will run east-west through London and HS2, which will connect London with Manchester and Liverpool. The Borders Railway, connecting Edinburgh with the Scottish Borders, was launched in 2016 and has been credited with a 25% rise in accommodation bookings in the Borders.
Get the top travel news stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday by signing up to our newsletter.