A firm timetable and firm planning policies are vital
MORE than 40 years ago, as the plans for the new Clifton campus of what is now Nottingham Trent University were taking shape, it anticipated a dualling of the A453. Only now is that happening. It took too long and harmed the growth of the Nottingham economy.
Today, the transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, confirmed that the proposed HS2 route north from London will split at Birmingham with the eastern leg heading for Leeds via Toton sidings. It brings the prospect of three trains an hour to London, travelling at up to 250mph, the fastest in Europe.
Business leaders such as Sir John Peace, who chairs Experian and Standard Chartered Bank, and Prof David Greenaway, vice chancellor of the University of Nottingham, have consistently championed investment in infrastructure to encourage growth.
HS2 could be 20 years away or more. A precise route has to be chosen, the money has to be found. HS2 is essential if the Notts economy is to survive competition for investment. We must press for its implementation, a firm timetable and firm planning policies allowing for the inevitable investment near to the Toton station. It is, after all, in the green belt, which exists to stop the urban mass of Nottingham and Derby coalescing.
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But in all of this, we must not take our eye off Nottingham's ambition for a regular 90-minute journey time between the city and St Pancras.
Nottingham will bear much pain this summer when the station is closed for six weeks from July 20 to August 26. Network Rail is spending £100 million on renewing six miles of track, modernising signalling and revamping level crossings.
In return for the pain, it should expect much improved journey times when the new timetable is published in December – an hourly service with a journey time of 94 minutes should be possible.
Electrification should mean Nottingham to London in 90 minutes and it must happen sooner rather than later.
The Cabinet Office believes some Core Cities such as Nottingham are not achieving their full economic potential.
Mr McLoughlin, Network Rail and East Midlands Trains have a critical role to play in helping the city get there.