Nottingham to London in 49 Minutes

The government has released its plans for the second phase of Britain’s high-speed rail network, HS2.

The second phase builds on the now former Transport Secretary Justine Greening’s initial plans announced in January 2012.

Phase one, which will link London to Birmingham, will be supplemented by phase two, an onward line from Birmingham to the North of England.

The route northwards of Birmingham will include stops at Manchester, Manchester Airport, Toton near Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds.

When completed in 2032-33, HS2 will boast the fastest trains in Europe. Trains will operate at speeds of up to 250mph, surpassing France’s enviable TGV service.

The Department of Transport claims that the first phase of HS2 will cut the journey time from London to Birmingham from 1 hr 24 min to 49 min.

Following the second phase of construction, the journey time from London to Manchester will be reduced from 2 hr 8 min to 1hr 8min, whilst Birmingham to Leeds will be cut from 2hr to 57 min.

The government predicts a total cost of £32.7bn for the project, but believes that it will deliver economic benefits worth £47bn.

The Campaign for High Speed Rail argues on its website that the new lines will “make it easier for companies to network, recruit workers, find customers, specialise and become more productive”.

Other supporters highlight the important role that HS2 will play in redressing the current overcrowding problem on popular commuter routes. The government estimates that HS2 could transfer 4.5 million journeys a year from the air and 9 million from the road.

Critics have emphasised the environmental threat posed by the project. Destruction of countryside, increased carbon emissions and noise pollution are potential dangers stressed by a variety of pressure groups.

Campaign group Stop HS2 contend that the economic benefits have been grossly overestimated. Moreover, the group is concerned that any benefits will be primarily accrued by London.

The group claims that “three times as many passenger journeys will be towards London, not away from it, so redistribution will end up there”.

Passengers at Nottingham train station had mixed opinions.

David Stewart, a head teacher from Nottingham, emphasised the importance of high speed train travel, but was keen to point out the concomitant dangers posed by major rail construction.

“Although I think it is important to move forward, we need to strike a balance. The planned route may interfere with sites of scientific interest.”

He was also uncertain about how much Nottingham will gain from HS2.

“The Nottingham to London service is poor in my opinion. However, I don’t think HS2 will solve this problem, as passengers will need to travel to Toton from Nottingham to use HS2. There is no direct train link from Nottingham to Toton”.

From Toton, which lies 7 miles from Nottingham by road, passengers will be able to get to London in approximately 30 minutes.

Georgina Cousins, a student from London, was also sceptical.

“I’m happy with the service as it is. I don’t think the cost of HS2 justifies the benefits, especially in these recessionary times”.

Rob Moher
Senior News Reporter 

7 Comments on this post.
  • Matt Buck
    18 February 2013 at 15:49
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    OK, this is going to be a long one.

    High Speed 2 is frankly not about speed. That seems a bit strange, but it’s true. It’s about capacity. The current main lines are full, or will be full within a decade or so. There is no further scope for upgrades without major works and disruption. Trains can’t get any longer, and they can’t get more frequent. Yet passenger numbers are still growing. This means that new lines have to be built, and if you’re building a new intercity railway, you build it to 21st century (200mph+) standards.

    HS2 will be primarily for long-distance travel – eg London to Manchester, with maybe a stop at Birmingham. This means the long-distance traveller is moved off the current main lines, allowing more trains to stop at intermediate stations, thus improving connectivity.

    It’s also good for the environment – the new trains will be electrified, which reduces emissions, and the extra space generated will allow capacity for freight, thus reducing lorry trips as well. Then of course you have the people who now find it quicker to get from A to B by train than by car and so do so.

    Regarding Toton, yes, it’s not an ideal place. However, what’s the alternative? You can’t run via Nottingham – it’s meant to be a high speed line, going at 50mph for 30mins to access the city centre defeats the purpose. And that’s before you consider the cost of adding more tracks to the current lines (HS2 trains will likely be wider than the current trains) and the concomitant demolition costs of the buildings in the way. There is no rail service from Nottingham to Toton currently, mainly because there isn’t a station there yet. Once there is, shuttle services will run from Nottingham.

    Finally, the argument over recessionary times? It’s in a recession that you want to invest – it stimulates the economy, and interest rates are as low as they’ll ever be, which makes borrowing money cheap.

  • Bel Eben
    18 February 2013 at 16:52
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    Modernisation of existing trackage is much better value for money than vanity HS2 high speed rail.

    Electrification of the existing Midland Main Line (MML) between London, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield is scheduled to be completed within the next decade. HS2 could not really match the modernised MML in convenience, price, or journey time.

    Most of rail capacity shortages are in the London area. There is no rationale for building the HS2 “Y network”, which provides the most capacity where it is least needed.

  • The Truth
    18 February 2013 at 19:23
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    “From Toton, which lies 7 miles from Nottingham by road, passengers will be able to get to London in approximately 30 minutes.”

    Rubbish, the author of this article brings shame on Impact and shame on Nottingham University. Get your facts right.

  • Dave J
    18 February 2013 at 19:34
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    It’s about time that money was spent on transport infrastructure outside London. The disparity between transport spending in London/South East and the rest of the country is mind boggling.

    If only they could spare a few quid to fix the roads too…

  • Matt Buck
    19 February 2013 at 13:30
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    Bel Eben, while I understand your point, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. HS2 is not vanity, it’s a necessary network capacity upgrade. Yes, the Midland Main Line is going to be electrified, and that is without doubt a good thing, but please do tell how wiring Bedford to Sheffield helps people living in Leeds, Manchester or Birmingham. HS2 is not about Nottingham, it’s about the country as a whole.

    HS2 will be designed for upwards of 20 trains per hour each direction on the London-Birmingham section, which is more or less as many as the West Coast Main Line manages. That’s a pretty significant upgrade.

    Finally, you stated that “modernisation of existing track is much better value for money than HS2”. That’s all very well if modernisation is an option, but really it’s not. The capacity crunch is on the West Coast Main Line between Euston and Rugby, and, shortly, on the East Coast Main Line between King’s Cross and Peterborough. The West Coast was modernised less than 10 years ago, and is the most heavily trafficked railway in Europe. There is very little scope for further upgrade here. On the East Coast, capacity is constrained by a two-track viaduct which cannot be widened. There is little scope for improvement here either.

  • marigolds
    19 February 2013 at 13:41
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    Considering ‘speed’ is such an issue here, this article is all over the place with the proposed journey time between Nottingham and London.

  • Bel Eben
    19 February 2013 at 21:53
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    “HS2 will be designed for upwards of 20 trains per hour each direction on the London-Birmingham section, which is more or less as many as the West Coast Main Line manages. That’s a pretty significant upgrade.”

    The Channel Tunnel Rail Link – HS1 – was ‘designed for twenty trains per hour’, but in most hours, only carries six. Most of its capacity is not usable, and the resources would have been better spent on other rail projects.

    HS2 is supposedly being designed for ‘designed for 18 trains per hour’, but most of the track would only carry 9 or 10. And timetabling 18 trains on the HS2 trunk to London is likely to prove infeasible, because of the interfaces with the legacy network.

    On their busiest (southern) sections, the Midland, East Coast, and West Coast Main Lines are largely four-track railways (two Fast and two Relief (‘Slow’) lines). The West Coast Fast Lines only manage about 13 trains per hour, which is not very impressive. One of the key enablers of future capacity transformation on the existing tracks would entail route reallocation of rail traffic (e.g. transferring freight to secondary lines, etc).

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