HS2 plan to join East Coast Mainline at Newark

By Nicola Gilroy & Jennifer Harby
East Midlands Today

An HS2 trainImage source, Hitachi-Alstom
Image caption,
A proposed design for an HS2 train

Plans to connect the eastern leg of HS2 to the East Coast Mainline are being considered by the government.

The scheme, set out in a government-commissioned document, would see high-speed trains routed from Nottingham to Newark en route to the north.

The option is one of four being considered following plans, announced in November, to terminate the eastern leg at East Midlands Parkway.

Rail bodies are exploring which option would deliver the most benefits.

'High-speed bypass'

The document, named Strategic Alternatives to High Speed 2, was commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT).

It outlined four options, one of which involves routing trains from Nottingham to Newark and up the East Coast Mainline corridor.

Under the plans, a new line - or high-speed bypass - would be built east of Nottingham, parallel to the existing line to Lincoln, with upgrades between Nottingham and Lowdham and junctions at Newark, Bawtry and north of Doncaster.

The final approach into the centre of Leeds, as well as the HS2 station in Leeds, would be the same as under the previously planned Eastern Leg.

The authors of the report said this option would enable HS2 to connect to a range of East Coast Mainline destinations.

"Under this proposal the main HS2 route to Leeds, York and the North East would be via the new bypass," the report said.

In November, Boris Johnson faced criticism that he had reneged on investment promises to the Midlands and north of England when the scrapping of the original route was announced.

Other options considered in the document include:

  • Constructing the HS2 link as far as East Midlands Parkway, with upgrades to the Midlands Mainline that allow HS2 services to reach Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield - the option proposed in November. HS2 services do not reach Leeds, York or Newcastle which are instead served via an upgraded East Coast Mainline.
  • HS2 services reach Leeds and Sheffield via an upgraded line south of Leeds, known as the Woodlesford Line.
  • HS2 services reach Leeds via a retained section of the planned Eastern Leg between the Rotherham area and Leeds city centre, combined with an upgraded and electrified Erewash Valley line through Derbyshire to Masborough Junction, near Rotherham.

David Harby, chair of the Lincolnshire branch of Railfuture, the national rail campaigning group, said the Newark option would give the government almost everything it wanted.

"It would also be the cheapest option but there would be compromises - of course, it wouldn't serve Sheffield," he said.

Andrew Pritchard, principle officer for Transport for the East Midlands, a partnership of the region's 10 local transport authorities, said: "What we understand is that the government will launch a study shortly to look more closely at these alternatives.

"We are expecting the terms to be published imminently. We understand it is going to be based on these alternatives."

Image source, Hitachi-Alstom
Image caption,
The government is due to look at the alternatives more closely

A spokesperson for Midlands Connect, the government-funded transport body, said: "In its Integrated Rail Plan, the government outlined four potential options that could be delivered to connect the East Midlands - via a new high speed station at East Midlands Parkway - further north to Yorkshire and the North East.

"Midlands Connect is undertaking work to examine the benefits and scope of these options, and is planning to share this insight with government as it conducts its technical review.

"Ultimately, Midlands Connect is committed to securing a transport settlement that delivers the best connectivity to communities across the East Midlands, as soon as possible."

A DfT spokesperson said: "The Integrated Rail Plan set aside £100m to look at the most effective ways to take HS2 trains to Leeds, and further work will be carried out to assess the best options.

"We recognise the Newark Alignment as one viable option as per the report.

"We're getting on with this work and will publish the terms of reference shortly and we continue to work closely with local stakeholders and local authorities on this work."

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