The government has today awarded £6.6bn contracts to build the new high-speed railway between London and Birmingham. This is the first phase of the controversial £55.7bn HS2 project, and it includes plans for a 600-mile cycleway network to be built to Dutch standards.
Later today ransport secretary Chris Grayling will announce plans on phase 2b of the HS2 route between Crewe and Manchester and from the West Midlands to Leeds.
The HS2 cycleway was given the go-ahead in 2013, with preliminary work on the network being done by John Grimshaw, co-founder of Sustrans.
Grimshaw's company worked with Dutch planners Royal Haskoning DHV and Phil Jones Associates to plan the cycleways linking London to Birmingham, and Leeds and Manchester.
"Our brief was to propose works to the highest European standard, the Dutch CROW Guidelines, and to pass through the centre of towns and communities within a corridor approximately three miles wide either side of the rail route," said Grimshaw.
"The outcome would be a large series of local routes, each of real benefit to communities otherwise bypassed by the High Speed Rail proposals, all to a flagship standard with the additional benefit that by linking up these fragments, local communities would have access to their countryside and nearby settlements, whilst visitors and tourists would have the possibility of longer national routes."
The Department for Transport's feasibility study into a cycleway suggsted a "linear route of almost 600 miles broadly within the HS2 corridor and a further 400 miles of satellite links. They will also be provided with the proposed design standards which are based on the Dutch CROW cycle infrastructure standards."