The East Midlands: growth & opportunity

Source: RTM Oct/Nov 16

Andrew Pritchard, director of policy and infrastructure at East Midlands Councils (EMC), discusses the growth opportunities for rail in the region with the next franchise competition and HS2.

EMC is the representative body for local government in the East Midlands, covering the cities and towns of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire. EMC takes an active interest in rail issues, lobbying successfully for the £2bn upgrade and electrification of the Midland Main Line and taking a leading role in the development of an HS2 proposition for the region. EMC is now working in partnership with the DfT on the East Midlands franchise competition. 

We believe that the competition is a massive opportunity for the people and businesses in the East Midlands – and for the rail industry. We want to work with the winning bidder to accelerate our recent history of rapid growth, and transform rail services across the region.   

The East Midlands has helped to lead the UK out of recession, with particularly strong private sector job growth over the last five years. 

It has huge potential for export-led growth (already accounting for 20% of GVA) and is well placed to thrive in a post-Brexit economy. We also have a strong academic network, with a number of high-performing universities and colleges that can support the development of a strong knowledge-based economy. 

Latest projections from the Office for National Statistics suggest the population of the East Midlands will rise by half a million people to 5.1 million by 2030 – the fastest growth outside London and the wider south east. Key hotspots include the cities of Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Lincoln, which all have young, dynamic and well-educated populations. 

But it is the town of Corby that has the highest projected population growth outside of London – a 16.7% increase over the next 10 years. 

Midland Main Line success 

The East Midlands has consistently delivered a higher proportionate share of the nation’s housing supply. Councils remain committed to the delivery of new housing to meet local needs and future economic prospects, with plans to deliver an additional 400,000 new homes over the next 20 years. 

The Midland Main Line has been a huge success story. Carrying 13 million passengers per year, patronage has grown by 130% over the last 15 years and is projected to increase by a further 30% over the next 10 years. Station patronage across the East Midlands has also grown significantly: 

The £2bn upgrade and electrification of the Midland Main Line represents a strong vote of confidence by the government and the rail industry in the region’s future growth prospects. We need to see this investment delivered by 2023 at the latest. We also need a modern, high-quality rolling stock solution that can make the most of the fabulous new infrastructure. 

HS2 in the East Midlands: taking the fast track to growth 

The development of HS2, including the development of an East Midlands Hub Station at Toton, the maintenance depot at Staveley and the potential for ‘classic compatible’ trains serving Chesterfield, has huge economic potential for the East Midlands. 

Independent research commissioned from KPMG by HS2 Ltd suggested that an East Midlands Hub Station could have the greatest economic uplift of any of the proposed HS2 stations. Our own initial work confirmed this assessment. This potential reflects the ability of HS2 to radically improve connectivity between the local economies of the East Midlands with those of the West Midlands, the north of England and Scotland, as well as London and the south east. In fact, the East Midlands Hub will be the most connected HS2 station on the network outside of London, with at least seven HS2 trains running per hour in each direction – and potential for additional ‘classic compatible’ services.

But economic growth will not be realised without strong and consistent locally-led action. That is why local leaders from the public and private sector have come together to develop an HS2 Growth Strategy for the East Midlands, which will complement the wider Midlands Connect strategy and the work of the HS2 East Partnership. 

The analysis we have done so far suggests that by targeting key sectors that can benefit from HS2 connectivity, in particular manufacturing, technology and high-value services, we can boost employment growth from just below to above the projected UK trend – equivalent to an additional 74,000 jobs and almost £4bn of GVA by 2042.

Our work has also highlighted opportunities to improve transport linkages between HS2 and key growth opportunities which will support our sector strategy. We are proposing to develop outline business cases for those improvements that show the greatest potential. Key emerging priorities include: 

  • Development of a northern-facing ‘classic compatible’ link at the hub station to boost connectivity between the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse;
  • A comprehensive re-modelling of Trent Junction south of Nottingham to meet the long-term passenger and freight requirements of both HS2 and Midlands Connect;
  • The development of a ‘Mass Transit Strategy’ as part of the Derby-Nottingham Metro initiative, with the hub station at its heart; and
  • Effective access from the A52 and a long-term approach to managing traffic growth on the M1 

We believe there is a potentially strong economic case for advancing the construction of the East Midlands Hub Station and the recently proposed ‘classic compatible’ link to Sheffield Midland Station by three years to 2030. 

The functional design of the hub station can either enable or frustrate accessibility to key growth opportunities. We have set out a series of functional design principles and a concept design for the hub station that would maximise accessibility and growth potential, to inform the work of HS2 Ltd and the Hybrid Bill process. 

We believe there are opportunities for some ‘early wins’ by aligning planned spending on apprenticeships with HS2 skills requirements. We have signed a Collaboration Agreement with the government’s HS2 Growth Partnership and established a small executive team to drive forward the development of the growth strategy. We are looking at ways of accessing private sector funding to reduce the requirement for public investment, including from international markets targeted by the Midlands Engine – in particular China and India. 

We intend to develop proposals for a Strategic Delivery Vehicle to promote the implementation of key development opportunities and connectivity improvements. 

The government has signalled its intention to make a formal route announcement on Phase 2b of HS2 in late 2016. Following this, we will publish our full East Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy in July 2017.

Artist impression of the East Midlands Hub Station at Toton

© DfT



Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Huguenot   18/11/2016 at 12:58

Pity poor old Leicester. The best that can be done is for it to have a frequent shuttle service to and from Toton for interchange with HS2. Still, even that should shave a few minutes off overall journey times such as Leicesster to Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

Frank   18/11/2016 at 17:43

What A load of rubbish. This has been published to cover the fact that there destroying beautiful countryside,villages and country parks many of which home creatures and animals that will be affected and no doubt leave the areas any in many cases cease to reproduce to put this pointless line in. The people involved dont live anywhere near the area's in question where as people such as myself do and will have to put up with not only the noise these trains will produce but the extra traffic which the road net works around here simply carnt accommodate. On top of that not months but years of construction disruption. The only people that will benefit are the councils with the parking charges and maybe a handful of new staff. They struggle running the rail network now so how there going to manage this is beyond me. I genuinely carnt believe they have got away with this!

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