Sir David Higgins, the chairman of High Speed 2 (HS2), has announced plans for a possible third high speed project if HS2 proves successful.Â
HS2 would form a "y" shaped network connecting London and Birmingham with Manchester and Leeds. HS3 would then connect Manchester and Leeds across the Pennines, a range of hills that separate Lancashire in the north-west from Yorkshire in the north-east.Â Â
Higgins said: "Improving connectivity is vital if Britain is to compete in the knowledge economy, in which this country has a competitive advantage, and in which ease of travel is an essential element.Â Â
"Reducing the journey times between and within our cities isn’t just desirable for passengers and freight, it is a strategic necessity."
Higgins said the HS2 company would put forward detailed proposals for HS3 by March.
The government has supported a "Transport for the North" system which would connect the region in the same way as London and would cover Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. The plan is part of a wider scheme to boost the northern economy. At present, there is no electrified railway across the Pennines.Â
UK Chancellor George Osborne said recently that northern England required better internal connections, especially from east to west.
The $84bn HS2 recently came under scrutiny from the Church of England after it was revealed that more than 30,000 graves will have to be exhumed to make way for the line.Â
Phase one of HS2 is presently the subject of a bill passing through the Westminster parliament. If it is approved, the network is due be finished in 2026.