Alternative East Mids HS2 hub to be investigated
Uncertainty still hangs over the exact site for the East Midlands hub for the second phase of the High Speed Rail project.
A report by Sir David Higgins, the chairman of the organisation running the project, has said new locations are be investigated as a result of doubts about the suitability of the proposed site in Toton.
Alternatives are to be studied in an effort to improve links to Nottingham and Derby, it added. Sir David, did, however, say that an East Midlands hub continued to "make sense".
"A combination of geography, historic land use and existing infrastructure makes it difficult to come up with the perfect solution for the East Midlands," the report said.
"The current proposal suggests a new station for HS2 at Toton, located between Derby and Nottingham, to maximise the benefit for the whole region and avoid a zero-sum game in which one city gains at the expense of the other. To their credit both cities recognise that and, therefore, fundamentally I believe the East Midlands hub continues to make sense. There is a question, however, as to whether the particular location at Toton is the best physical choice.
"It is clear from discussions with local stakeholders, and considering our broader strategic objectives, that the right location is one which delivers the best fit with existing services, especially to Derby and Nottingham."
Alternative station sites to the west of Toton are now to be examined which can provide better road and rail connections via the M1 and Midland Main Line respectively.
Sir David also recommended that the line be extended to Crewe by 2027 – six years earlier than originally planned – effectively ending any hopes Stoke had of being connected to the Y-shaped line of HS2.
Under Sir David's recommendations journey times from Birmingham to Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and York, among others could be reduced by a half or more.
The report also describes plans to build a HS3 high-speed rail link to connect the ends of the Western and Eastern lines of the Y-Shaped second phase of the route between Manchester and Leeds.
"Improving connectivity is vital," he said. "If Britain is to compete in the knowledge economy in which this country has a competitive advantage, but in which ease of travel is an essential element.
"Knowledge based companies whether they are in high-tech manufacturing, the creative industries, finance or the law, have to be close, or feel close to the talent, skills base, support network, knowledge pools, collaborators and clients necessary to create the "hot-house atmosphere" in which they thrive.
"That is why reducing the journey times between and within our cities isn't just desirable for both passengers and freight. It is a strategic necessity."
His report outlined four main proposals, including a call to ensure that both legs of the proposed HS2 Y-network are completed, and urged cities in the north to "speak with one voice".