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Travel times ‘will be halved’ under HS2 hub rethink

JOURNEY times between major Midlands cities and the north of England could be slashed under ‘game-changing’ proposals for HS2.

Plans have been submitted to the government and the independent HS2 review panel for changes to a key rail junction. The regional transport organisation, Midlands Connect, has said its proposals to alter the Toton East Midlands Hub station in Nottinghamshire, on the planned Leeds branch of HS2, could be less expensive than current thinking.

The plan would see hourly services operating between the new Birmingham Curzon Street station (artist’s impression above) and Nottingham, via Toton, and also between Bedford, Leicester and Leeds. As a result, the Nottingham to Birmingham journey time — currently 72 minutes — would be halved to 33 minutes. Leeds to Leicester train journeys would take 46 minutes instead of two hours.

The plans have the support of council leaders in Birmingham, Nottingham and Leeds, as well as Leicester’s mayor and business group the CBI.

The cost of implementing the services is estimated at £170million. The economic benefit is said to be at least £1.4billion. Midlands Connect chairman Sir John Peace said: ‘Our proposals are a genuine game-changer, revolutionising the way regions do business with each other.’

Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced ‘an independent and rigorous’ review into HS2 last month.