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County councillor criticises Nottinghamshire upgrades with HS2 cash as ‘designed in London’

Transport projects funded with money which would have been spent on HS2 don’t meet Nottinghamshire’s current needs, a councillor has said.

The East and West Midlands will get a total of £9.6 billion for transport infrastructure after the high speed rail project was cancelled north of Birmingham.

The government’s new Network North vision instead included quicker trips between Nottingham and Newark, halving journey times to Leeds, and the potential for an expanded tram network.

Nottinghamshire County Council. Credit: LDRS
Nottinghamshire County Council. Credit: LDRS

However, a meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Transport Committee heard this won’t address urgent problems like congestion and the need for electrified railways lines.

Michael Edwards said: “The loss of HS2 can’t be underestimated. The number of paths available to trains in Nottingham were small already. We needed HS2 for more capacity to get in and out of London.

“The idea seems to be that we can go faster to Newark and join the East Coast mainline, which is already busy. It’s designed in London, not coming from us.”

He called for electrified railway lines to be extended to Nottingham to prevent “diesel trains to London idling in the city centre, making air pollution worse.”

He also said action was needed to relieve traffic coming over the River Trent from West Bridgford, saying: “There are clear positives for not a lot of national money”.

The elected Mayor of the new East Midlands Combined County Authority will have a £1.5 billion budget to spend on transport from May.

The government’s Network North report says: “Subject to the Mayor’s views, this could include the potential to extend the Nottingham tram system to serve Gedling and beyond Clifton South… and to reopen the Maid Marion Line to passenger rail services.”

Mr Edwards added: “The poor mayor is going to have more than £1.5b of demands.”

Council officers said that East Midlands authorities were looking into how they could align their transport plans.

However, Kevin Sharman, officer for place development, said: “There’s a lot of money in the short-term through the combined authority, but unless you’ve got a scheme that’s ready to be delivered, we’ve probably missed the opportunity at this stage.”

It was noted that Network Rail may submit proposals for further electrification in the region in early 2024.

The county council had purchased a 56-acre parcel of land at Toton for £22m in anticipation of the eastern leg of HS2.

The council says this land hasn’t lost its value, and is looking into its future use.

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