The Integrated Rail Plan will level up transport in the Midlands on an unprecedented scale
On Thursday the government announced £96 billion in rail infrastructure throughout the Midlands and the North. I consider this the first phase of the eastern leg of HS2 and they will be undertaking an 18-month consultation to determine what further phases will look like.
The government will lay out £100 million funding commitment to work out the best way to get HS2 trains to Leeds. This will take the form of a review led by Network Rail. This is an opportunity for myself and other East Midlands MPs to continue to raise the case for the eastern leg in full.
We have never seen this levelling up of all aspects of travel within our region before
For decades the East Midlands has had the lowest spend on transport per head in our country, the government made it clear that ends now. With a package of around £10 billion for rail infrastructure coming directly to the East Midlands, the government has made progress to level up that has never been achieved before.
Headlines with the focus on the eastern leg of HS2 being “scrapped” could not be further from the truth. The government has committed to high-speed trains that will be stopping in the East Midlands, both at East Midlands Parkway and in Derby and Nottingham city centres.
In my constituency of Broxtowe, we are receiving a brand-new station at Toton with links to East Midlands Parkway, Nottingham and other areas throughout the region. We will also see the new Maid Marian Line, as well as the Robin Hood line, subject to a positive business case and Network Rail support.
The electrification of the Midlands main line is an incredibly welcome announcement from the government, with work due to start before the end of the year. We will also see London-style contactless ticketing across the North and Midlands, backed by £360 million to deliver fares, ticketing and retail reform, including the roll out of contactless pay-as-you-go ticketing to around 700 stations in urban areas (including around 400 in the North).
This plan will not only hugely benefit commuters across the Midlands and North by providing faster journeys, increased capacity and more frequent trains but it will do so over 10 years earlier than previously planned.
The Integrated Rail Plan also introduces a new package of road and tram connections, to ensure that sites around Toton are accessible from a variety of surrounding areas and routes. We have never seen this levelling up of all aspects of travel within our region before.
It is now absolutely essential that we move forward and do so at speed. It is a fantastic package in front of us that has excited many within the region. Now we must see these plans come to fruition. It is now time to get shovels in the ground and get the job done.
Darren Henry is the Conservative MP for Broxtowe and chair of the MIdlands Engine APPG.
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