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|July 16th, 2008, 12:49 PM||#11|
A Tale of Two Cities
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: The middle of nowhere
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From Todays Mercury
FAST RAIL LINK IS 'WORTH BILLIONS'
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10:30 - 16 July 2008
Business leaders are backing proposals to build a high-speed rail line to London.
They said journey times as fast as 35 minutes between Leicester and the capital would pump "billions" into the area's economy.
Network Rail is considering an 186mph service on tracks which would follow the same route as the Midland mainline.
It would be an intercity route, serving Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.
Chambers of commerce for Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire are jointly to petition Government about the issue.
Businesses and councils are being encouraged to help form a pressure group to try to secure the line.
Martin Traynor, managing director of Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce, said Leicester would benefit more than anywhere else if the line was built.
He said: "This issue is so important.
"A high-speed rail link could make Leicester very attractive to businesses and Government departments.
"It would mean billions in investment, and I believe Leicester would benefit most because it is the first major city on the Midland mainline."
Business organisations said if the East Midlands missed out, the region could become an "economic backwater", which would adversely affect the wealth of future generations.
Network Rail has commissioned a study into the high-speed plan because the current line will be full to capacity by 2025.
It said it did not yet know what type of train would run on the tracks, though it would be similar in designs to high-speed engines such as those which run Eurostar and French TGV services.
Both Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council have pledged to campaign for the line.
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive, George Cowcher, said: "We need to bring together all the interested parties from a huge area covering the East Midlands and beyond. The stakes could not be higher.
"We may be talking of 20 to 30 years' time, but the action we take now will have a fundamental impact on the wealth of our communities for future generations.
"There is a direct link between the wealth and success of a region and the quality of its transport and communications links.
"If we do not put forward a strong case at the highest levels, we risk becoming an economic backwater."
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