The government has agreed to proposals which could see the extension of a section of the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail network in the East Midlands.

Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, confirmed that a tunnel on the route under East Midlands Airport could be lengthened to safeguard the future of a planned industrial development in the area. The initial plans meant that the line would run through the proposed site of a new Strategic Rail Freight Interchange depot (SRFI) next to the airport but after long discussions with key officials it was deemed that it could affect the feasibility of the facility and threaten the 7,000 jobs that could be created.

Mr McLoughlin explained that the changes will impact on phase two of the HS2, which will create a high speed train route between Birmingham and Leeds. When initially unveiling the plans, ministers stated that there would be a new East Midlands Hub at Toton as well as a station at Sheffield Meadowhall. After listening to the concerns put forward, the government has decided against going through the SRFI site and instead extend the tunnel underneath the airport.

The transport secretary stated that the 1.9km bored tunnel, which has already been proposed, could see a further 1km added to avoid the SRFI site. The Department for Transport is due to hold talks on the route later in the year and it will be put to a public consultation before any definitive decision is made.

“These changes have the potential to deliver huge economic benefits for the East Midlands on top of the already considerable opportunities HS2 will bring the region. They also show that we are both maximising the economic impact of HS2 as well as listening to concerns of those affected by it," Mr McLoughlin said.

The HS2 is designed to significantly reduce journey times across the UK and will connect the likes of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham with London. It also helps to alleviate the strain currently faced by the nation's rail network.

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