High-speed rail link 'needs to stop in Leicestershire'
Leicestershire business will suffer if the planned new high- speed rail link does not stop in the east Midlands.
Former Labour transport minister Lord Andrew Adonis and Alison Munro, the chief executive of HS2 Ltd which is behind the plans, said the existing Midland Mainline was running out of capacity.
They both visited Nottingham yesterday as part of the consultation into the plans.
However, Martin Traynor, managing director of Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce said it was likely a local stop would be near Kegworth, potentially drawing businesses away from Leicester city centre.
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The consultation ends on July 29 and the Government will report back at the end of the year on the London to Birmingham route and – if that goes ahead – whether lines will branch off to Manchester and Leeds. Work on the London-Birmingham section would start in 2017 and be finished in 2026, while the branch lines would be up and running by 2032/3. The total cost would be £32 billion.
Lord Adonis said the benefits of carving up a swathe of English countryside outweighed the environmental and financial costs.
He also said the new route would offer much better connections than the existing line to St Pancras – including links to the new London Underground Crossrail link.
He said: "You get much shorter journey times and better connectivity. Because the trains go so fast, even though they go west from the east Midlands, the journey times are rapidly cut."
Alison Munro said a local station could still be in Leicester, Derby or Nottingham or in between.
She said: "The new link would mean east Midlands to London would take about 55 minutes, while east Midlands to Birmingham would take 25 minutes. That increases the number of people local businesses can reach and the people who can fill jobs for them."
Jon Ingleton runs publishing house Tudor Rose, in Friar Lane, Leicester, whose clients include the United Nations and Microsoft.
He said: "We are strongly in favour of anything that improves the rail infrastructure. But we are also cautious about what it will mean to the cost of train travel.
"At the moment, at certain times, the cost of rail travel to London can make it more economical to drive."
Martin Traynor said Leicester will miss out if the stop is not in the city. He said: "What we would like to see is the electrification of the Midland Mainline which we believe is both deliverable and achievable, even in the current economic climate."