Strategic review will consider options to meet booming train passenger demand to the north and west of London

Network Rail has announced a strategic review into the case for building new rail lines in the UK. The review comes on the back of statistics showing that passenger numbers on the rail network have increased by 40% in the past decade.

Five routes north and west of London will be examined during the review: the Chiltern, East Coast, West Coast, Midland Mainline and Great Western lines.

Network Rail has launched a tendering process to appoint a consultant to assist in the review, with a winner to be named by the end of July. An initial report is due to be completed by summer 2009.

Iain Coucher, Network Rail's chief executive, said: “By 2025 many lines will be full up, especially those running to and from the north and west of London.

“We have to see how we can meet the capacity challenge and see what solutions - including, potentially, that of new lines - are deliverable and affordable. This review, working in partnership with other players in the railway industry, will kick start this process.”