Calls have been made for the Government to provide clarity on the future of HS2 in Nottinghamshire after a delay to parts of the multi-billion pound project was announced. The first HS2 trains are expected to start carrying passengers between London and Birmingham in 2029 at the earliest, with estimates the cost of the whole project will eventually reach £71 billion.
The London to Birmingham route represents the first phase of HS2, whilst the second sees the route splitting off into a Y shape. Trains will head towards East Midlands Parkway on the eastern leg and then to Crewe and eventually Manchester on the other.
But the Government announced on Thursday (March 9) that the Birmingham to Crewe section of HS2 would now be delayed by two years, partly due to increased project costs. In terms of the Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway section of HS2, there had already been speculation earlier in the year that this leg of the project would be scrapped altogether.
Are you planning an event for the coronation of King Charles III? Let us know in our poll here.
It would see a new high-speed line being built from Birmingham to connect to the existing railway line near the East Midlands Parkway, just south of Nottingham. The Midland Mainline would be completely electrified, allowing HS2 trains to travel to Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield.
The Government has repeated its commitment to HS2's place in the East Midlands, but there have been calls in Nottinghamshire for more detail to be provided. Chris Hobson, the Director of Policy and External Affairs at the East Midlands Chamber, said: "In the East Midlands, where we receive the lowest transport infrastructure spending per head at 64.7% of the UK average, we need to see a firm commitment to progressing the eastern leg through Parliament via a dedicated bill as soon as possible.
"This will allow us to build on the long-term vision being developed for economic activity in our towns and cities, which will ultimately provide a return on this investment by creating growth, jobs and prosperity." The eastern leg of HS2 was already cut short, given that original plans would have seen it running to Leeds.
The original plans would have also seen an East Midlands Railway Hub being built in Toton, but the Integrated Rail Plan in 2021 confirmed that much of HS2's eastern leg had been scrapped. The Government has committed to investing in a new station at Toton, although it will not act as a high-speed hub for HS2.
It will instead connect to a reopened Maid Marian Line, closed during the 1960s, providing services to areas including Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Selston and Pinxton. There has also been a commitment to extend the Robin Hood Line out to Edwinstowe and Ollerton.
Ben Bradley is the Conservative leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, which put years of planning into the proposed Toton hub before it was scrapped. Councillor Bradley said: "I have been and am seeking clarity from Government. I just want the certainty as to the way forward.
"I want us to get that Birmingham to Nottingham and Derby route confirmed and done, because the opportunities with that are huge. I want to get the decisions made nationally about what the routes between East Midlands Parkway and Sheffield are in particular.
"That has a huge impact on our economic growth and our plans for the future in terms of investment and development. We need that certainty to be able to make things happen."
Speaking about the general announcement on the delay to parts of HS2, Chris Hobson added: "This Government is once again minimising the huge opportunities that HS2 brings to progressing many of our country’s overarching economic objectives, including levelling up and net zero, by providing the infrastructure that will spur clean growth and regeneration in UK regions.
“Investing in big infrastructure is a vital ingredient in any successful economy, yet as a country we continue to adopt a very short-term attitude by slowing down or scaling back this investment any time we need to make some cost savings."
In his statement on HS2, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "Work continues on progressing commitments made in the Integrated Rail Plan to develop HS2 East, the proposed route for HS2 services between the West and East Midlands, and to consider the most effective way to take HS2 trains to Leeds.
"HS2 continues to represent a very significant investment into our national infrastructure, levelling up communities right across our country, providing a net-zero alternative to car travel and domestic flights, and training a skilled workforce for the UK's future construction industry."
- Car crashes into newsagent and police cordon set up
- City bus services diverting and disrupted by heavy snowfall
- City terror suspect 'used Twitter to glorify terrorist beheadings'
- Quiet suburb with a 'handy' row of shops and award-winning chippy
- Woman arrested at airport 'swaps paella for Pot Noodle'