HS2 Eastern Leg progress needed quickly after report outlines detailed process for rail improvements
A recent report has highlighted a detailed process for rail improvements in the north of the country, which will deliver better connections for our region.
The three-phase process will incrementally build on the proposals within the government’s Integrated Rail Plan published in November 2021 by offering much-improved inter-city and inter-regional connectivity.
The three phases are estimated to cost just over £8 billion to deliver and would represent a £7.4 billion saving on the forecasted cost of delivering the full eastern leg of HS2 as initially proposed.
The HS2 East group’s proposals are based on three phases:
- Phase 1: Ahead of HS2 / Northern Powerhouse Rail: To be delivered immediately and into the mid 2030s, this has already been budgeted for in existing schemes so comes at no extra cost. It would include completion of full Midland Main Line electrification, some new/increased/re-introduced services, including a second hourly fast Sheffield-Leeds service on the existing line. With the addition of the infill electrification from Sheffield to Moorthorpe (South Kirkby) to connect with the East Coast Mainline to Leeds.
- Phase 2: Deliver the missing gap: To be delivered between the late 2030s to early 2040s, these improvements would cost £4.1 billion and would include the upgraded / new high speed rail line between Sheffield and Leeds along with a new ‘T’ shaped station in Leeds, including the delivery of the originally proposed HS2 route between Clayton junction and Leeds to allow HS2 trains to be extended from Sheffield to Leeds, and an upgraded East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Leeds and up to Newcastle as per the IRP.
- Phase 3: Further increments: To be from the late 2040s onwards and delivered at a cost of £4.1 billion, this would include upgrading and electrifying the Erewash Valley line, upgrading Nottingham-Newark, and reopening the Leamside Line to enable freight to be diverted off the East Coast Main Line.
Overall, the phases would deliver:
- Faster journey times from Birmingham to Leeds and Birmingham to Sheffield, York and the North East.
- Much improved connectivity between the West and East Midlands, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Leeds and the North East.
- Clarity around safeguarded land. This includes the release of Chesterfield’s Staveley Depot site for development.
- More flexible infrastructure to accommodate future services requirements.
East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “It’s great to see partners within the HS2 East group working collaboratively and proactively to demonstrate the value of creating better rail connections across the North and Midlands.
“HS2 East’s proposals will have an important economic and social impact – sparking regeneration in our towns and cities, connecting our communities to where future jobs are being created, and driving innovation in nationally-critical industries.
“From an East Midlands perspective, it is pleasing to see the report reiterate the importance of finally completing Midland Main Line electrification in full, giving us cleaner, faster and quieter trains that link better with the HS2 Eastern Leg.
“However, it is disappointing there is no suggestion of reinstating the high-speed link we were promised between the East Midlands and Leeds via Sheffield, but was significantly scaled back in the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), as this affects regeneration and growth plans in places like Chesterfield and Staveley.
“We are keen to learn how this work will be progressed in future, while at the same time bringing forward the economic benefits of the IRP as soon as possible, so that businesses can implement the opportunities provided by improved infrastructure into future strategy planning.”
Commenting on the release today of the HS2 study to Leeds terms of reference, Midlands Connect’s CEO Maria Machancoses said: “We welcome the release of the much awaited terms of reference for the HS2 review up to Leeds.
“Midlands Connect remains unanimous on the enormous economic, social and environmental benefits associated with getting HS2 connections from the Midlands to the North.
“We will now seek to be actively involved in the next stages of development ensuring as part of the study, consideration is given to our proposals for improved services from the East Midlands to Leeds and beyond.”