Mansfield to Amsterdam in four-and-a-half hours. That’s the ambitious vision of Mansfield mayor Tony Egginton, who wants to connect the Robin Hood Line with the proposed new HS2 route.
Although the controversial high speed line has yet to be given a final rubber-stamping by central government, an East Midlands Councils meeting has already discussed how local towns and cities could benefit should it go ahead.
Mr Egginton, who has been involved in those talks, insists the preferred route through Toton gives Mansfield - along with other towns and villages along the line such as Shirebrook, Mansfield Woodhouse, Sutton and Kirkby - an opportunity to be linked to HS2.
A working line currently used by freight trains peels off just outside Kirkby and runs through Langley Mill to where the proposed new station at Toton would be sited - and he believes that could be opened up for passenger services too.
“It seems as though the HS2 is now going to get the go ahead and we’d be keen to push for a link from the Robin Hood Line to Toton,” said Mr Egginton.
“There are plans for Eurostar to come further north in the long-term, so there is a possibility if we can get linked up to the HS2 that we could do Mansfield to Amsterdam in four-and-a-half hours.
“It’s important that we add to the rail infrastructure in our area, particularly with the extra money now being put into it and the funding available.
“People are looking to commute and travel further afield from Mansfield, so we have to make sure the transport is right for them.”
HS2 is being promoted as benefiting northern cities such as Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds, but Mr Egginton says towns such as Mansfield could also receive a welcome boost.
He added: “For companies who have their base in London, Mansfield and other places in the area could become the site of regional headquarters.
“There is a lot to play for and while it might not be 2030 until HS2 is finished, we have to put ourselves forward now.”
Mansfield 2020 promotes the business interests of the town and lobbied hard for the Robin Hood Line, which saw Mansfield station re-opened in 1995.
Its operations manager, Caroline Cox, said: “We would welcome any rail link to HS2 that would support growth in the town in the future.
“The Robin Hood Line has been a success and other additions to the transport infrastructure would be equally welcome.”