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Borough in battle with Birmingham over high speed rail link

THE two borough MPs have added their voices to calls for high-speed trains from London to stop at Birmingham International station.

THE two borough MPs have added their voices to calls for high-speed trains from London to stop at Birmingham International station.

Their views put them at odds with Birmingham City Council - and in particular its leader, Mike Whitby - who want services to run straight into the city centre.

But many business leaders say it is essential for the region’s economic well-being that trains serve the National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham Airport, eight miles east of central Birmingham, at Bickenhill.

Both Labour and the Tories have announced they will build fast links connecting London and Birmingham, but the plans are at a very early stage. No decisions have been made about which stations will be used, or whether new ones will be needed.

Caroline Spelman, Conservative MP for Meriden, said: “The whole Conservative strategy on high-speed trains is to make better use of Birmingham Airport which will soon have an extended runway, rather than have passengers go to Heathrow.

“It is a complete no brainer to run direct rail services from Euston to Birmingham city centre. The International station should be their first stop.”

Lorely Burt (Lib Dem, Solihull) said: “It is hugely important that the NEC and the airport are served by high-speed rail.”

Airport spokesman John Morris said: “Let’s make sure that the jewel in the crown, which is what the NEC and airport are, is connected to high-speed rail.”

Paul Thandi, chief executive of the NEC Group, said: “We should do economic impact work and come to a conclusion on that.”

Making passengers bound for the NEC or airport change in central Birmingham would add significantly to journey times, while a direct service would reach the city within 55 minutes of leaving London.

Councillor Whitby said Britain needed to learn the lessons of high-speed rail in Europe, where in some cases planners had located hub stations well away from city centres and later regretted it.

 

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