Leicester

HS2 opponents call for Leicestershire's Ivanhoe line to reopen

HS2 protest sign Image copyright Reuters
Image caption While some areas are keen to welcome the HS2 line, many places are mounting a stiff opposition

Politicians opposed to plans for an HS2 route through the East Midlands have said they will support it if another railway line is reopened to passengers.

Phase two of the high speed line from Birmingham to Leeds will pass through North West Leicestershire but not stop.

Councillor Nick Rushton said he would consider backing it if the Ivanhoe line through Leicestershire was renovated.

He said the Transport Secretary was "positive" about the idea and council officers were working on a plan.

The Ivanhoe line, which runs from Leicester to Burton-upon-Trent, has been closed to passenger trains since the 1960s and is currently used solely as a freight-line.

It has been the focus of numerous campaigns to reopen it for more than two decades.

The most recent was rejected by the county council in 2009 because the estimated cost of almost £50m was deemed unviable.

Image caption The Ivanhoe railway line links Leicester and Burton-upon-Trent

"If the government can come up with £50m for the renovation to the line and put it out to franchise, it will work," said Mr Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council.

"There is no train connectivity at all from North West Leicestershire to Leicester and if we are going to take all the grubby nature of HS2 the least they can do is give us this."

Opening up Ivanhoe, also known as the National Forest line, has been backed by residents in the north of the county who welcomed better links into Leicester.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, said: "I have been supporting the reopening of the Ivanhoe line for as long as I have been in politics.

"It's right we take a pragmatic attitude, and if HS2 has to go ahead and go through North West Leicestershire, we don't want to take all the pain for none of the gain."

Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, said the line could be reopened at a "moderate" cost compared to HS2.

He said: "I think that investment will be a much greater benefit to the county than the HS2 ever would be."

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