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HS2 plans for Nottingham and Leicester referred to government

Words: Laura Edgar
Birmingham to Nottingham / Midlands Connect

Sub-national transport body Midlands Connect has submitted plans to the government for HS2 services for Nottingham and Leicester, and to the Oakervee Review.

The organisation makes clear that there is a “strong case” for high-speed trains to directly connect the city centres of Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester and Leeds via the East Midlands Hub station at Toton.

It said the proposals would see the Nottingham-Birmingham journey time come down from 72 minutes to 33 minutes, and would cut the journey time from Leicester to Leeds (for which there is no existing direct route) from two hours to 46 minutes.

Current HS2 plans would see passengers use the existing network to travel to Toton before changing to an HS2 train, or vice versa. Midlands Connect’s plans make direct services possible using new conventional-compatible trains that can travel along both high-speed and electrified tracks, allowing them to call at both new HS2 and existing stations.

The Nottingham-Birmingham service would require changes to a planned junction at the East Midlands Hub at Toton. Midlands Connect said this could be less expensive than the current junction, which is due to be proposed as part of the Phase 2b hybrid bill.

The organisation estimates the capital cost of implementing its plans, which includes the Toton junction and infrastructure upgrades to the Midland Main Line, to be £170 million.

Midlands Connect has estimated the economic benefit of the new services to be at least £1.4 billion, making its calculation on journey time savings and the benefits to businesses of improving the economic relationship between towns and cities.

It is also hoped that the plans would encourage people to make fewer car journeys on the Midlands' congested roads.

Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, said it was time “that the true benefits of high-speed rail are fully understood to make sure the project goes ahead in its entirety”.

“Our proposals are a genuine game changer for connections between the East Midlands and West Midlands and on to the north of England, revolutionising the way regions do business with each other and demonstrating that HS2 will spread the economic benefits far beyond the cities with a dedicated station.”

Peace added that Midlands Connect are “sending a strong message to the government that delivering HS2 in its entirety is absolutely essential to the future economic success of the whole of the UK”.

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and chair of Core Cities, said: “HS2 is about much more than travelling to and from London. It will help to connect cities such as Leeds and Sheffield with towns and cities all across the East Midlands and beyond, providing links by rail that are vastly underused at the moment because of how long journeys take. This will really help to maximise the economic benefits of HS2 for the Leeds City Region and the East Midlands.

“Done right, HS2 can be a real catalyst for growth across the country. We are working together with Midlands Connect, HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport to put the case for the delivery of HS2 in full, given how vitally important it is to the future economic success of the UK.”

Image credit | Midlands Connect