HS2 to connect Birmingham and Nottingham under new plans
A new section of HS2 will connect Birmingham and Nottingham under updated plans for the multi-billion pound line.
An extension to Phase 2B of the scheme would include a direct line between the two Midlands cities, more than halving journey times to 33 minutes.
The new section has been sent to the Government and will be included in the review of HS2 ordered by Boris Johnson, which could potentially see it scrapped completely.
It also comes after it was revealed this week Phase 1 of the line could be delayed by up to five years, while its cost has rocketed to around £88bn.
HS2 was supposed to launch in 2026 but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted that timetable was unrealistic and was now likely to be between 2028 and 2031.
Under the new plans, hourly services could operate between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham, via the East Midlands Hub.
There are also plans for a line linking Leicester and Leeds as part of a push to deliver more benefits to the Midlands and the north.
Transport chiefs said the extended lines would be worth an estimated £1.4bn to the region, boosting businesses by improving economic links between the cities.
Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect, which has sent the plans to the Government, said: “Now we have more clarity over the costs and timescales of HS2, is it time that the true benefits of high speed rail are also fully understood to make sure the project goes ahead in its entirety.
"Our proposals are a genuine game changer for connections between the East Midlands and West Midlands and on to the north of England, revolutionising the way regions do business with each other and demonstrating that HS2 will spread the economic benefits far beyond the cities with a dedicated station.
“We are working closely with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport to develop our compelling business cases, and submitting our findings to the HS2 Oakervee review.
"We are sending a strong message to the government that delivering HS2 in its entirety is absolutely essential to the future economic success of the whole of the UK.”
Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward said: "We've been clear all along that HS2 is about rebalancing the UK economy and it's clear that improving the links between Birmingham and Nottingham and between Leicester and Leeds would significantly boost the economies of the Midlands and the north.
"Birmingham is already benefitting from the prospect of HS2; other cities must not be ignored. Nottingham, Leicester, Derby, Sheffield, Leeds and other towns and cities of the Midlands and the north need the jobs and opportunities that come with high speed rail, enabling them to prosper in the decades ahead."