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Examination of Witnesses

Part of High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 9th July 2013.

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Jane Urquart: Yes, I think HS2 will alleviate capacity issues and improve the connectivity with those other cities. Our rail speeds at the moment: getting, for example, from Nottingham to Birmingham takes about an hour and a quarter; that is a very long time for a comparatively short distance. Our current connectivity to Leeds: it takes about two hours, again. That is a very slow journey. You can get from London to Leeds in those sorts of times.

For us there are capacity issues. The midland main line is very busy and full and needs the upgrade work that is currently happening. The resignalling scheme is due to start in a couple of weeks at Nottingham, to improve the midland main line. All of those improvements need to happen anyway in the intervening time. For us it is not a case of “Either you increase the capacity on the classic network or you build high-speed rail.” Actually, you need to do both, because the capacity constraints are so great. HS2 will then enable capacity to be released on the midland main line to serve different markets for different kinds of travel that people want to do.

We would expect and want, when HS2 arrives, to have HS2 and regular, reliable, efficient services on the midland main line as well, to serve the intervening locations that will not be served by HS2. So it is incredibly important for us to get both the improvement in journey time and the increase in capacity.