Councillors 'shopping list' to make sure Northampton train services benefit from HS2

Call for more frequent and faster services in high-speed era

Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 9:07 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 9:23 am

Councillors are making an early bid to make sure Northampton rail services see a massive upgrade thanks to HS2.

Cabinet members at West Northamptonshire Council agreed a ‘shopping list’ of improvements they want to see once the high-speed rail link, costing up to £98 billion, opens from 2029.

The list includes more frequent and faster services to and from London and Birmingham, direct trains to Manchester and reducing overcrowding for commuters.

HS2 is expected to free up capacity on the West Coast Main Line route and through Northampton when it opens from 2029

Councillor William Barter, cabinet member for transport, said: “It may seem a long way off, but the decisions we make now will have far reaching implications for the people of West Northamptonshire.

“Currently, rail services for our local area take second place to long-distance trains, which means our local services are less frequent and have longer journey times than we would like.

“With HS2 on its way, it’s crucial our council is around the table and able to influence future proposals.”

Phase one of HS2 is due to open in stages between 2029 and 2034 with 225mph trains slashing journey times between London and Birmingham from one hour, 21 minutes to just 52 minutes.

It will divert city-to-city traffic away from the West Coast Main Line, freeing up capacity for services to Milton Keynes, Northampton, Long Buckby and Rugby.

The council is involved in ongoing talks with West Coast Partnership, which operates the West Coast Mainline, to influence shaping of proposals for the line once HS2 is complete.

Work started on HS2 in 2020, including a 13-mile stretch of new line through South Northamptonshire running through two tunnels and over three viaducts just north of Brackley and close to a number of villages including Westbury, Radstone, Sulgrave, Chipping Warden, Upper Boddington, Culworth, Whitfield and Greatworth.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the controversial scheme the go-ahead despite fierce opposition from environmentalists and others claiming it was too expensive.

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Local MP, Dame Andrea Leadsom, accused the company of ‘ruining’ the countryside after giving former transport minister Andrew Stephenson a tour of problem sites in the area and said she was “ashamed” of how locals blighted by the HS2 project were being treated.

HS2 pledged to be “good neighbours” and respect communities impacted by construction, which it says it will “create a positive legacy for Britain.”