Link from Kirkby to high speed rail line could halve journey time to London

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Proposals for a direct link from Kirkby to the high speed rail line could halve journey times to London.

Mansfield and Ashfield could have massively improved journey times to London as part of plans to run a high speed rail line through the East Midlands.

Proposals have been announced to link the Robin Hood Line directly to the HS2 station at Toton via an existing freight link through Kirkby Station.

East Midlands Council Leaders have this week launched their initial HS2 Growth Strategy which will ensure the benefits of having the HS2 East Midlands Hub in the county will be felt by communities across Nottinghamshire.

Councillor Alan Rhodes, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council said: “A great deal of hard work has already gone on behind the scenes to ensure that the HS2 East Midlands Hub is located in Nottinghamshire and I am delighted that has now been confirmed by the Government. Our focus now is very much on ensuring that the region - and in particular, people and businesses from every part of Nottinghamshire - feel the benefits from this fantastic opportunity.

“If everyone is able to enjoy the much improved journey times on HS2, giving good access to the East Midlands Hub from all parts of the county must be a top priority and we are already actively exploring ways in which the existing road, rail and tram networks into Toton from the rest of Nottinghamshire can be improved.

“This could include a rail link into Toton from the Robin Hood Line and better linkage from the M1 / A52.”

The strategy report launched this week recognises Mansfield and Ashfield currently have a very poor train service to and from London and Birmingham with very slow journey times.

HS2 would offer the opportunity to transform this situation and provide a major boost to the regeneration of the area.

This would be possible because of a rail link that leads directly from the Robin Hood line at Kirkby down into the Erewash Valley where it joins the Chesterfield to Toton route.

Currently the line form Kirkby is only used by freight, but it would be capable of use by passenger trains.

Currently atrain journey from Mansfield to London St Pancras takes between 2hr 34mins and 2 hr 47 mins.

Estimated journey times from the East Midlands Hub station at Toton will be: Birmingham - 19 minutes, Leeds - 29 minutes, York - 36 minutes, London - 51 minutes; Newcastle - 106 minutes

Coun Rhodes added: “HS2 also presents fantastic opportunities to develop jobs and skills - both during the construction phase and with the radically improved connectivity it will provide.

By targeting manufacturing, technology and ‘high value’ sectors, we can attract employment and wage growth above the national average.

“What’s more, HS2 will reduce over crowding on the existing network and create capacity for more local services, making upgrades to existing lines such as the electrification of the Midland Mainline, even more important and relevant than ever.”

An estimated 74,000 jobs could be created and £4 billion added to the East Midlands economy by 2042, if the region can capitalise on the selection of Toton as the site for the new station.

The findings form part of the initial East Midlands HS2 Growth strategy report, published by the East Midlands HS2 Strategic Board, made up of local authorities from the region, including Nottinghamshire County Council, Local Enterprise Partnerships and the East Midlands Chamber.

The HS2 Growth Strategy will sit within the emerging Midlands Connect Strategy and Midlands Engine, which provides a comprehensive transport framework for the entire region.

The initial strategy will be developed further, before the full document is published in July 2017.