The Government has delayed the publication of its Integrated Rail Plan on numerous occasions throughout 2021, with the plan initially slated for release at the start of the year.
Delays have left the future of HS2’s Eastern Leg Phase 2b hanging in the balance – HS2 is a high-speed railway line being built between London and Birmingham, with planned extensions to Manchester and also an eastern leg to Leeds, via Nottinghamshire and featuring a major hub station at Toton, near Nottingham.
The Department for Transport has insisted the IRP will be published ‘soon’ on multiple occasions throughout 2021, with many people believing an announcement was due in both September and early October.
But the project was left out of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget and spending review last month, leading to criticism of the Government from East Midlands opposition MPs.
However, Coun Ben Bradley, council leader and Mansfield MP, said he has had ‘positive’ conversations with people in Whitehall.
Mr Bradley has been using his dual role to speak with ministers on issues including HS2, and believes an announcement is ‘close’.
He said: “From the conversations I’ve been having, it’s clear the IRP is imminent.
“I think it could be very positive for Nottinghamshire, I think we’ll see a significant commitment to investment and to Toton, and to other local transport infrastructure within it.
“I’m excited about it. I think we’re likely to get a pretty good deal out of it.”
The council has invested more than £22 million in allocating land for development around the potential Toton HS2 hub, while Ashfield Council, Bolsover MP Mark Fletcher and Ashfield MP Lee Anderson have been pressing for the reopening of the Maid Marian Line between Kirkby and Pye Bridge to passengers – providing a direct link from the Robin Hood Line serving Mansfield and Ashfield to Toton.
A DfT spokesman said: “The IRP will soon outline exactly how major rail projects, including HS2 phase 2b and other transformational projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, will work together to deliver the reliable train services that passengers across the North and Midlands need and deserve.”