Train operators warn of urgent need to build extra lines to cope with forecast passenger boom

British railways must double their capacity over the next 30 years if they are to cope with demand from passengers, train operators have warned.

In a joint report with UK infrastructure owner Network Rail, they insisted long-term plans should be made within five years.

New lines will have to be constructed, rather than simply adding extra trains, the report said, after warning that up to three times as many passengers could be travelling on the railways by 2020.

New lines rather than merely extra trains would be required, said the report

Among the options suggested is a new high-speed London to Scotland line, and the electrification of the Great Western and Midland Main lines, the BBC said.

The moves would remove pressure from the West Coast Main line, which operators have predicted will be full by 2010.