HS2 rail link to create 19,500 jobs along line through Nottinghamshire
WITH Prime Minister David Cameron today announcing that the Government is to build a new high-speed rail line – including a station at Toton Sidings – business leaders in Notts have given the thumbs-up to the scheme.
The two new routes, from Birmingham to Manchester and to Leeds, via Toton, will open in 19 years time.
The Government says 19,500 jobs will be created along the line through Notts alone.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin added: "This Government will do everything possible to ensure that Nottingham and the East Midlands economy benefits by getting the connections they need and deserve to thrive."
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'THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT FASTER TRAINS TO LONDON'
Plans for Notts to have a station in the new national high speed rail network have been announced today. Jon Robinson, Emily Winsor and Charles Walker report on the impact.
FOR Alastair Clark, travelling to London on the train is part and parcel of his business.
It takes 106 minutes – but all that looks set to change.
The Government today announced new details of its plans for a high speed rail network which could dramatically cut journey times between Nottingham and the capital.
As the Post reported on Saturday after the news was leaked, Toton Sidings will be a location for a station on the new High Speed 2 line – which will go under East Midlands Airport on part of the route.
It means passengers could get on one of three trains an hour in Toton and step out on to the platform in London just 51 minutes later.
A link train from Nottingham to Toton would take 10 minutes, with seven minutes for passengers to transfer – meaning the total journey time between the city and the capital would be 68 minutes.
This is 38 minutes quicker than current services.
Mr Clark, who runs city movie maker Wellington Films, said: "It will be a big boost. Sometimes a long train journey can give you chance to get some work done but I'd certainly be happy with being able to get there and back quicker."
The northbound service from Toton to Leeds would take just 29 minutes.
From Nottingham, adding the link journey and transfer time, it would take 46 minutes.
And it is hoped Birmingham would be just 26 minutes away – with high speed trains travelling at 80mph on the existing network until they reach Trent Junction, where they would join the 250mph high speed rail line.
One family to benefit from the faster journey times is the Lukes, who come to church in Nottingham every Sunday and often travel to London afterwards to see relatives.
Leroy Luke, 44, and his daughter Lerencia, 15, of Leicester, had been to the YMCA church in the city centre yesterday.
Mr Luke said: "We've being coming to Nottingham by train every week for at least ten years, because the church has members from Montserrat which is where we are from.
"We often go on afterwards to London to see my mother, mother-in-law and cousins so a faster train would certainly benefit us. I think it is a great idea, especially for families with young children. Less time on a train is always a good thing."
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the new high speed rail network was hugely significant for public transport and the economy.
He said: "We have got time to make sure the infrastructure is right. The area could get great economic impact."
The Department for Transport insists there will be "substantial investment" in linking Toton station to Nottingham.
"We expect Nottingham City Council and Notts County Council to come forward with proposals that link in with the station so that all the links are there," said Mr McLoughlin.
Councillors and transport officers at the city and county council are set to lobby the Government to ensure the rail connection between Nottingham and Toton is an additional direct shuttle service, with a stop at Beeston.
This is important because if connections to Toton are not dedicated they would undermine existing services to Derby and Leicester, adding up to 10 minutes to those journeys.
Toton station would have four platforms and it is hoped it would be accessible by a road from the A52.
The Toton Diesel Depot run by DB Schenke, employing hundreds of staff at Toton Sidings, will remain on the west side of the site.
The station is expected to be built on the east side, on the former coal sidings.
George Cowcher, chief executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the news which he said had "the potential to unlock economic benefits of as much as £3.8 billion for the region."
He said: "This is not just about faster train times between Derby, Nottingham and London – it's also about connecting the East Midlands to a first-class UK and Europe-wide rail network and the opportunities that brings to firms, as well as making the region an extremely attractive place for inward investment."
Peter Richardson, chairman of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, added: "In order for local businesses to develop and grow, they need to be connected to a rail network that not only brings London and the regions closer together, but also creates the additional capacity we need to compete. High-speed rail will do that."
Councillor Richard Jackson, chairman of the county council's transport and highways committee, said: "We have been lobbying for this for three years. This is good news for the economy of Notts and the region as a whole."
Councillor Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation in the city, said: "We have pushed hard for Nottingham to benefit from the next phase of Government high-speed rail plans.
"We are pleased that Toton sidings has been selected as the East Midlands stop.
"We accept that it may not be economically viable to build a new high-speed line right into the heart of the city but this doesn't mean that selected trains cannot use a combination of existing tracks and the new high speed line to serve destinations off the core route.
"We will continue to press for such services into Nottingham."
Sir John Peace, who is chairman of Experian and Standard Chartered Bank, and Professor David Greenaway, vice chancellor of the University of Nottingham, have both championed investment in high quality infrastructure to underpin the local economy.
Sir John said: "HS2 is a key initiative and part of the important infrastructure strategy."
Professor Greenaway added: "Reducing journey times helps business and having this link come so close to the city is good news, so long as we then have a fast link from Toton."
But David Thornhill, chairman of Notts Campaign for Better Transport, said his group was opposing the scheme.
"It's environmentally destructive and I'm not convinced the business case is there," he said.