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An unflattering insight

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Ian Jordan of HS2 Ltd arguing the case for a Toton high speed station on tv

The story of HS2 in the East Midlands casts an unflattering insight on local city politics (wrote Richard Baker for the Nottingham Post). After the Consultation Route for the eastern leg of the Y network was published, Derby council bosses launched a campaign to get the high speed station moved from the poorly-connected Toton sidings into their own city centre.

[“HS2: Plans for high-speed rail link at Toton Sidings close to being abandoned”, Richard Baker, October 8, 2014]

[…] Privately, business leaders despaired at the spectacle of two cities bickering while other parts of the country came up with agreed proposals to make the most of the biggest infrastructure project the UK has seen in decades.
In the end, HS2 looks to have rejected Derby’s proposal outright. But it’s also rejected Toton.
The precise location of a new site won’t become clear until October 27, when HS2 chairman David Higgins unveils a new report into the second phase of HS2, which goes through the East Midlands.

But it’s thought to be somewhere between Breaston and Long Eaton, close to the area where the Midland Main Line from the south splits in two to go to Derby and Nottingham.

Significantly, it’s also closer to Leicester and to East Midlands Airport. The new route could also mean that an expensive train tunnel under the airport – part of the current route proposal – is no longer necessary.

Written by beleben

October 8, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. The consultation documentation presented only two options (Toton & Derby), all other options being considered & rejected, supposedly for practical reasons. (In my view, the reason for choosing Toton was that it was cheap for construction, nothing to do with relative proximity to cities.) Why wasn’t this (cheaper) option presented?


    October 8, 2014 at 6:23 pm

  2. If we are stuck with HS2, a smarter arrangement than Toton would be a two-tier interchange (Shinkansen style) with the east-west Derby-Nottingham section of the MML just south of Breaston, after which the HS2 northbound fork could stay on the west side of the M1 and keep out of Nottingham.

    The NorthStart website’s full-scheme alternative to HS2 would instead have its interchange with the MML at the most productive point for the wider East Midlands economy, East Midlands Airport:

    The question is, why did HS2 come up with Toton in the first place?

    Michael Wand

    October 9, 2014 at 9:03 am

  3. This was obviously written with a Nottingham readership in mind, and doesn’t accurately reflect events as I remember them.

    The starting point for Derby’s case is a report produced by Arup for the city council and the D2N2 LEP; this concluded that most economic advantage for the East Midlands area was to be gained by locating a station for the area in Nottingham, followed by Derby with Toton a very long way behind. However, constructing a new railway through Nottingham would be extremely expensive; by contrast, building one through Derby would be “cheap” – the existing rail corridor could be followed – and therefore routing HS2 through Derby gave a far superior cost/benefit result. This report was provided to hs2 Ltd/DfT, and the city council thought that its conclusions had been accepted and adopted, for in (I think) a BBC East Midlands ‘Inside Out’ programme covering HS2, Councillor Paul Bayliss, the then leader of the city council, declared that at a confidential briefing with Justine Greening in Loughborough, the council had been told that HS2 would be routed through Derby; I don’t think this was a misunderstanding on his part, for a leaked map of the proposed route showing a HS2 station in Derby was published in at least one national daily.

    However, as we all know when the proposal was actually published, a route through the Erewash Valley with a hub station for the East Midlands at Toton was selected; and not only did Derby lose its HS2 station, when proposals for changes to existing train services were published, Derby lost its long distant trains to Newcastle, Scotland, Bristol, Exeter, and Plymouth. A “double whammy” for the city!

    So far as I am aware, no one has properly explained why there was this late change of plan; obviously, there would be major disruption to rail and road in Derby whilst the new combined railway station was built on the site of the existing one, and hs2 Ltd has claimed that a station at Toton would generate more traffic for HS2 than would one at Derby. Against this, fewer houses/people are affected by routing HS2 through Derby, and it is a quicker route (according to hs2 Ltd). The maximum disadvantage to passengers if the station were to be located in Derby is a time penalty of 10-12 minutes in getting to the station by road (along the A52 Brian Clough Way from Toton).

    Before selecting the existing station site as being the best location for a combined one, hs2 Ltd reviewed a number of options in the city; strangely, they omitted from their deliberations the two sites which seem to me to be the most obvious. These are an area currently being redeveloped between the existing station and the city centre (Castleward), and a location north of the bridge known locally as “Five Arches” which carries the railway over the River Derwent adjacent to the existing station; much of the latter is formally railway owned land, and is presently occupied by industrial units, a bus garage, and the ‘Derby Telegraph’ building (which is only partially used). Building a station on Castleward would be possible but very expensive; it would need to be in a deep box – as at Stratford International – as it would need to pass beneath the Markeaton Brook, the River Derwent, and Bass’s Recreation Ground (a surface or elevated route over the recreation ground wouldn’t be possible, I believe, because of legal issues resulting from the gift of the land to Derby). The other site (north of “Five Arches”) would be much cheaper to construct, and could be built with only minimal interruption to train services and roads; moreover, it is closer to the city centre than the existing station, and could easily be connected to the central bus station by some form of people mover, thereby making use of the established bus connections throughout the East Midlands to service the new railway station.

    Ironically, Nottingham (and Chesterfield and Sheffield) could also benefit from having the station in Derby if portion trains were to be used; a train from London could split at Derby, with one portion reversing and going via Long Eaton to Nottingham, the other going forward via the existing Midland Main Line to Chesterfield and Sheffield. The journey time to Derby would be significantly reduced over that which is on offer via Toton, that to Nottingham would be more or less the same, to Sheffield would be slightly better than via a Meadowhall change, and Chesterfield would gain most as it doesn’t have any HS2 services at all under present plans. Further, if connections between HS2 and the existing network were to be constructed in the Birmingham area, some existing services – like the Plymouth – Edinburgh one – could be diverted to HS2; this would have a number of benefits including freeing up capacity on the existing route so that an enhanced local service could be provided to Tamworth, journey times between centres south west of Birmingham and north of Derby would be reduced, and people living in places as far away from HS2 as those in Bristol, Exeter, and Plymouth would feel they were also benefiting from the massive investment in the project.

    An expanded service provision such as those outlined above isn’t possible if the HS2 station is located either at Toton or in Nottingham; of course a London – Nottingham/Sheffield service could split at Toton, but if the Sheffield portion continued northwards up the Erewash Valley it wouldn’t serve Derby, and if it took the long way round through Derby the journey time to Chesterfield and Sheffield wouldn’t be much less than now. And the infrastructure no longer exists north of Nottingham to operate a mirror-image of the Derby option – it could only be achieved with massive major investment.

    Unfortunately, major integration with the existing railway doesn’t really seem to part of hs2 Ltd’s plans; it may just as well be a monorail or maglev! It will be interesting to see what the HS2 report actually says when it is published; if there has been a massive change of mind and HS2 is to be integrated into the classic network, like HS1, then that’s an improvement which must be welcomed.

    But it still won’t answer the basic question “is HS2 really needed” ?

    David Faircloth

    October 10, 2014 at 9:59 am

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