Councillor David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council has responded to the publication today (Thursday 18 November) of the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands, which included confirmation that the HS2 Eastern Leg has been cancelled.
The Government’s announcement includes an East Midlands High Speed Hub at East Midlands Parkway rather than at Toton as previously proposed, and the section of HS2 running north to Sheffield and Leeds – known as the Eastern Leg – has been scrapped. High speed trains will continue on to Nottingham Station and the Midland Mainline will be upgraded and electrified, under the plans announced in the House of Commons by the Transport Secretary Grants Shapps.
Councillor Mellen said: “While we welcome the investment in direct HS2 services to Nottingham, today’s announcement is incredibly disappointing and yet another broken promise from this Government to the Midlands and the North.
“Although the plan pays lip service to the repeated promises of ‘levelling up’ our historically under-funded regions, in reality it fails to truly support infrastructure growth across the East Midlands. Nottingham has among the worst rail connections in any of the UK’s biggest cities, and this plan does nothing to address the particularly poor connections to the north.
“Building the Eastern Leg in full is the only way to deliver these vital connections that will improve journey times and increase capacity on regional networks, acting as a catalyst for the future growth, housing and jobs that we need.
“Although we haven’t yet had opportunity to read the full details of the IRP, it’s already clear these benefits simply can’t be achieved under the fragmented plans, and continued uncertainty will make it very difficult to plan ahead and for companies to invest in the area.
“The Hub at Toton, with the potential to create 11,000 jobs, community facilities and housing, is made somewhat superfluous and there is a lot of uncertainty around how this station will fit into the wider rail network. We’ll be seeking more clarity on the plans for Toton and its connections to the city.
“One element we are pleased to see is the long overdue re-commitment to electrification of the Midland Main Line, for which we’ve been campaigning for several years. This has been promised and cancelled twice, so we’re hoping it’s third time lucky.
“Electrification is crucial to reducing the carbon emissions of heavy rail in Nottingham and the wider region, and I look forward to seeing the new fleet of electric trains that will support our carbon neutral and cleaner air ambitions.
“While there is some welcome news in today’s announcement, there’s no escaping the fact that delivering the Eastern Leg in full is the only way to truly ‘level up’ the Midlands and the North, and we’ll continue working with partners to push the Government for this commitment.”
The Integrated Rail Plan can be viewed here.