Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has said that the East Midlands’ position at the heart of the proposed high speed network will allow residents to ‘reap the rewards’ of faster journey times to London, Birmingham and Yorkshire.
The Government is currently consulting on proposals for a new high speed rail network which include a station in the East Midlands.
The region’s civic and business leaders gathered in Nottingham yesterday to discuss the proposals, which could bring the city to within an hour of central London compared to around 1h 45m currently. Journey times to Leeds could also be over an hour shorter, at just 40 minutes, and Birmingham could become around 50 minutes closer, with journeys taking just 23 minutes.
However, readers of Rail.co voted in a poll recently on whether we really need HS2 at all. Only 38% of those who voted agreed with the Government’s proposals. The remaining 62% were against the line altogether.
Concerns over cost, the environmental impact and existing infrastructure that desperately needs repairing are just some of the reasons for protests against the high speed line.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said:
“The benefits of HS2 to the East Midlands are extensive and undeniable. Just one look at a map of our proposals shows the region would be right at the heart of the network and would reap the rewards this brings, with fast, direct connections to London, Birmingham and Yorkshire.
“Taken alongside the £44bn of benefits to the UK economy and the significant regeneration this will bring to towns and cities along the route, high speed rail is something the East Midlands simply must support. My message to the region is simple – the transformational possibilities offered by HS2 are second to none – ignore them at your peril.”
The Department for Transport estimates the cost of the complete ‘Y’ shaped network at £32bn and expects it would generate economic benefits of around £44bn and fare revenues of around £27bn over a 60-year period.
The Government is currently holding a public consultation on its proposals for high speed rail which runs until 29th July 2011.