New high-speed rail services will run between Birmingham city centre to Nottingham and Derby as part of a £96 billion package of rail upgrades announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
The HS2 line will go between Birmingham’s new Curzon Street station to East Midlands Parkway near Nottingham from where they will switch to conventional track and continue to stations in the centre of Nottingham and Derby.
It means journey times from Birmingham city centre and Nottingham city centre will be cut from 72 minutes to 26 minutes, reports BirminghamLive.
But the planned phase 2b ‘eastern leg’ between Birmingham and Yorkshire via the East Midlands has been downgraded, with the section running to Sheffield and Leeds scrapped.
Phase one of HS2 between Birmingham, Solihull and London is already under construction and phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe has previously been confirmed.
Mr Shapps said today that phase 2b ‘western leg’ from Crewe to Manchester will also go ahead as originally planned.
There is also funding for the Midlands Rail Hub project which will allow expansion at Moor Street station in central Birmingham.
This in turn makes it possible to improve services on the Camp Hill Line, taking a greater number of trains via new stations in Kings Health, Moseley and Hazelwell into Moor Street instead of New Street which is what will initially happen when the trio open in the next couple of years.
The changes include:
– New high-speed station at Toton, in the East Midlands, will not go ahead. Instead, HS2 will stop at the existing East Midlands Parkway while a smaller new station for local services will be built at Toton.
– High-speed rail services will not run between the East Midlands and Yorkshire. It means the original plan, to create a high-speed network stretching all the way from Birmingham to Leeds, is not going ahead.
– Northern Powerhouse Rail line, which was due to be a new high-speed line running between Leeds and Manchester, will now consist partly of upgrades to existing rail lines although there will also be some new sections of high speed track.
The Government argues that its new plans allow passengers to benefit from improvements to the rail network years sooner than originally planned.
Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon MP said: “For too long, communities across the North have been left with substandard infrastructure while facing record fare increases.
“Instead of taking action on the cost of living crisis and fixing the transport problems they created, the Government is looking the other way, trapping people in a cycle of regional inequality, high tax and low growth.
“It’s laughable and insulting to expect people to be satisfied with watered down schemes and crumbs from the table, after putting their faith in a Prime Minister who has gone back on his word at the first opportunity.”
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West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “Today’s announcement is a huge vote of confidence in the West Midlands, and a major step towards my 2040 transport plan.
“Not only has the Government confirmed that HS2 will connect Birmingham and Solihull to London and Manchester, but it has also confirmed a new high-speed line to link the East and West Midlands. But the other big prize for the West Midlands today is the Government’s support in principle for Midlands Rail Hub.
“There is still plenty of detail to be worked through but following today’s announcement we now have the very real prospect of extending the Camp Hill line to link with the rest of the network at Kings Norton junction.”
He added: “While difficult decisions have had to be taken, we need to be realistic that the economic outlook for the country has changed and so a re-evaluation of the HS2 eastern leg makes perfect sense.
“The new plan still delivers what is required for the West Midlands, putting us at the centre of the nation’s new rail network.”
Sir John Peace, chairman of regional transport body Midlands Connect, said: “We welcome the Government’s words and its commitment today to the Midlands Rail Hub. We now need to re-double our efforts and move this project from planning to delivery.
“These improvements will create space for millions more passenger seats on the railway every year and provide a step-change in connectivity to Moor Street, opening up access to HS2 for communities in Hereford, Worcester and Bristol via the new Curzon Street station being built next door.
“The Midlands Rail Hub will also increase capacity for rail freight, supporting our programme to create for over one million lorries’ worth of freight to be moved onto our railway every year.”