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Rail Strategy Implementation for Leicester and Leicestershire


Scheme: Implementing the key priorities that were agreed in the Leicester and Leicestershire Rail Strategy, including the introduction of direct rail services between Leicester and Coventry; contributing to detailed planning for connections with HS2; and lobbying for improvements on the Midland Main Line to reduce journey times to London below 60 minutes.
Client: Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP)
SLC team: Mark Beckett, Ian Baxter


In 2015-16, Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council and the LEP worked with SLC Rail to develop a strategy for improving rail services in the area, to support the significant economic and housing growth that is planned (see Leicester and Leicestershire Rail Strategy).

The strategy recognises the limited potential for the councils to directly sponsor new rail schemes. However, as the rail industry is now at a pivotal moment in long-term planning, including HS2, there is tremendous potential for influencing a number of key schemes to improve the rail network and benefit local people:

Midland Main Line

With the cancellation of the Midland Main Line electrification and proposals to introduce bi-mode trains, it became even more important for Leicester and Leicestershire to obtain commitment from the industry and Government to maintain regular, fast services to London. SLC Rail provided a number of strategy papers to ensure that the Leicester and Leicestershire Rail Strategy supported the area’s Strategic Growth Plan and provided a clear direction of travel in the flux of changing rail policy and political decisions.

SLC Rail provided evidence of the economic importance of the services, together with credible growth forecasts, which Leicester and Leicestershire used to make strong, justified political arguments to the Department for Transport.

HS2 Connectivity

With the introduction of HS2, there is a great opportunity to substantially reduce journey times from Leicestershire to key economies in the North. However, this would depend on direct services starting on the existing rail network and transferring to HS2, with a North-facing junction near the East Midlands Interchange.

SLC Rail carried out a study of the economic value that would be achieved through provision of such a junction. By extending the proposed service to include other major towns south of Leicester, the substantial value to Leicestershire’s economy was clearly demonstrated. SLC Rail was successful in getting this project adopted by Midlands Connect, and for there being a serious prospect of it being incorporated in the Bill for HS2 Phase2b.

East Midlands Franchise

The East Midlands franchise process is providing an opportunity for Leicester and Leicestershire to shape the new franchise specification, to transform the service to better serve the local people and economy.

SLC Rail helped Leicester, Leicestershire and their partners across the East Midlands to present a consistent, detailed response to the Government’s franchise consultation. From service capacity to quality of rolling stock, a clear case for improvement was developed and delivered.

Direct services to Coventry

Despite the relative proximity of Leicester and Coventry, there are no direct rail services between the two cities. This is contributing to serious road congestion and has been identified as a barrier to economic growth.

SLC Rail secured funding and carried out a study, to develop a scheme for providing direct rail services connecting Leicester to Coventry as an extension of the NUCKLE route upgrade (read about the Nuneaton to Coventry upgrade).

Next steps

Leicester and Leicestershire are continuing to work with SLC Rail to implement these and other rail priorities. At the time of writing, SLC Rail is assisting their clients with the further development of rail strategy and deliverable projects in support of their Strategic Growth Plan.

Leicestershire Rail Strategy Implementation

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