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HS2 ‘could connect Nottingham and Leicester to other cities’

HS2 could run to Nottingham and Leicester city centres, under proposals to be submitted to the Oakervee-led review of the project.

The Midlands Connect group of local authorities and businesses is calling on the government to introduce the new transport links, which would cost an estimated £170m.

Under the new proposals set out by the body, time taken to get from Nottingham to Birmingham would be halved to 33 minutes, and Leicester to Leeds cut from two hours to just 46 minutes.

A Nottingham to Curzon Street Birmingham service would require changes to be made to a planned junction at the East Midlands Hub at Toton, but Midlands Connect says this could be less expensive than the junction as it is currently proposed.

Under current plans, passengers would have to use the existing rail network to travel to Toton before changing on to an HS2 train or vice versa, but the new proposals would make direct services possible by using trains that can travel along both high speed and electrified tracks, allowing them to call at both new HS2 and existing rail stations.

Midlands Connect chair John Peace said that the benefits of the project need to be fully understood since there is “more clarity over the costs and timescales” of the project following last week’s announcement about its budget and delivery date.

He said: “Our proposals are a genuine gamechanger 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.”

Mr Peace said that Midlands Connect is working closely with HS2 and the DfT to develop a “compelling” business case.

He said: “We 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.”

Midlands Connect previously announced plans for a £2bn Midlands Rail Hub, which involves the implementation of 15 pieces of new and improved infrastructure, including a shared station square between Birmingham’s Moor Street and Curzon Street stations.

Confederation of British Industry regional chairman Richard Butler said: “Better connecting communities across the Midlands and to cities in the North will open up investment and employment opportunities, boosting local economies and people’s job prospects.”

Boris Johnson’s Oakervee review panel was announced in August, and is set to submit a final report in the autumn.

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