Saturday 23 October 2021
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Nottingham

HS2 Eastern leg decision not expected until October

The future of Nottinghamshire’s potential HS2 leg is expected to become clear by the end of September or early October, a council leader has said.

But it remains unclear what this will look like, with doubts cast over the high-speed project’s eastern leg.

The Government is due to publish its Integrated Rail Plan in the autumn, committing previously to a form of high-speed travel in the East Midlands.

The plan will assess “lessons learned” by earlier phases of the HS2 line in the hope of delivering high-speed rail more quickly.

It will also outline plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Connect.

Concerns mounted last month, however, that the plans could be shelved after Government requested the eastern leg, potentially linking Toton to Leeds, is paused.

hs2map

A Rail Needs Assessment last year also recommended Government ditch plans to build the HS2 station at Toton, moving the scheme to East Midlands Parkway.

However, investment has already been pledged into the region to help deliver the scheme, including a new £30 million link road between Toton and Chetwynd.

The hub would also link to other forthcoming projects, including the East Midlands Freeport and the reopening of the Maid Marian Line.

But Councillor Ben Bradley MP (Con), leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, says investing in the proposed Toton hub would “pay for itself” over a 10-to-15-year period.

Cllr Bradley said the cost is expected to be about £25 billion, and the council leader believes Toton should be included in the plans.

“We’re expecting the Integrated Rail Plan in the autumn, probably the end of September or early October,” he said.

“For us, the capacity is clear around freight, what we want to do with the Freeport, and with being a hub in the country in terms of logistics.

“Whatever it looks like is a national decision far above our heads, but we want to ensure Toton is a part of it in some shape or form.

“We’re making a strong argument. I’m fairly confident Toton will have some role in whatever the announcement is, because of course, that’s our hub, our economic growth and where investment is lined up.”

However, Cllr Milan Radulovic (Lab), leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, remains sceptical of the scheme’s future.

“My feeling is it’ll get shelved, put on the back burner to let another Government look at it in the future,” he said.

“That would be a complete abdication of responsibility.

“We want to proceed with it, we’re looking at the Toton Masterplan, the creation of the business park, jobs and houses.

“It’s time [the Government] got off the fence and made a decision.”

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service last month, a Department for Transport spokesperson said Government remains committed to high-speed travel in the region.

Once complete, the HS2 line will run from London to Birmingham before splitting into a Y-shape, with the western leg going to Manchester and the eastern leg to Leeds, potentially via Toton.

HS2 Phase 2b Eastern Leg timeline

  • September 2017: East Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy published, outlining plans for Toton hub.
  • March 2019: Government approves £2 million funding for a new development body to oversee East Midlands HS2 plans.
  • November 2020: Government splits Phase 2b in half, separating legislation for Western and Eastern legs.
  • December 2020: Rail Needs Assessment recommends changes to Eastern Leg, including scrapping the Toton hub in favour of East Midlands Parkway.
  • Spring 2021: Publication of Integrated Rail Plan delayed.
  • May 2021: Government commits to Western Leg in Queen’s Speech but does not outline Eastern Leg plans.
  • July 2021: Government requests HS2 Ltd pause work on Eastern Leg until Integrated Rail Plan is published.
  • Autumn 2021: Integrated Rail Plan due to be published.
  • 2022: Introduction of Hybrid Bill for Phase 2b Western Leg expected.