Midlands Connect has submitted a business case to the government and the independent Oakervee review, highlighting a potential £1.4bn boost of new HS2 connections to Nottingham and Leicester.
The transport body claims there is a strong case for high speed trains to directly connect the city centres of Birmingham and Nottingham and Leicester and Leeds via the East Midlands Hub station at Toton, more than halving journey times and boosting the economy by at least £1.4bn.
Under plans submitted to the government by Midlands Connect, hourly services could operate between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham, and between Bedford, Leicester and Leeds, vastly improving links between cities with historically poor rail connections.
The proposals would see the Nottingham-Birmingham journey time more than halved to just 33 minutes (currently 72 minutes) and the Leicester-Leeds journey time slashed from two hours to just 46 minutes.
The capital cost of implementing the new services is estimated at £170m, including the Toton junction and infrastructure upgrades to the Midland Main Line to enable an extra hourly service from Bedford to Leeds, via Leicester.
Midlands Connect says that both new connections bring huge potential benefits for businesses looking to reach new markets, employees seeking out new job opportunities, students deciding which university to study at, and those keen to explore new leisure and cultural destinations.
Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, said: “Now we have more clarity over the costs and timescales of HS2, it is 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.”
Richard Butler, CBI regional chairman, said: "Better connecting communities across the Midlands and to cities in the North will open up investment and employment opportunities, boosting local economies and people's job prospects. Public transport needs to be convenient and accessible to all; enhancing existing HS2 plans to link more cities and towns will encourage more people to leave their cars at home, reducing congestion and the impact on the environment."