The Government has for the first time signalled that it is considering making Carlisle a major stopping point for the transformative High Speed 2 rail project.

Carlisle’s MP John Stevenson has hailed the newest plans for HS2 as “significant” for the city.

It yesterday launched a consultation on “phase 2b” of its giant high speed rail project – known as HS2 – that aims to bring significant changes to both speed and capacity on the west coast main line.

Until now, it has not been entirely clear whether Carlisle would ultimately play a major role in the HS2 project.

But yesterday’s consultation looks set to answer that, as it reveals plans for a major redevelopment of Carlisle station in order to accommodate HS2 services.

The consultation proposes that Carlisle becomes the point at which 200m trains from Glasgow and Edinburgh stop, and the 400m services suitable for the high speed line begin.

To accommodate this, it is proposed that Carlisle’s platforms three and four are extended, and platform two is filled in.

A new platform would also be created on the southern side of the station, and a new footbridge would be built.

Mr Stevenson, who has long called for Carlisle to play a role in the HS2 plans, hailed yesterday’s consultation launch as an “indication that Carlisle is important in the plans for HS2, and could well be a key stopping point for the trains that go from Glasgow down to London”.

“It is demonstrating that the Government is willing to invest in Carlisle station,” he said.

He added that if the new plans are put in place, “as HS2 develops, our region – but Carlisle in particular – is not going to be left out.

“By reconfiguring the platforms, it clearly means Carlisle is going to be considered a destination and a stopping point for HS2.”