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Hundreds expected at service honouring Matthew Boulton

More than 1,000 people are expected to attend a special service honouring Birmingham-born entrepreneur Matthew Boulton today.

The service is being held at Westminster Abbey, when a memorial to the manufacturer will be unveiled to mark his contribution to the Industrial Revolution.

The service will be held at Westminster Abbey later Credit: PA

It will sit along an existing memorial to James Watt, to mark their business relationship. Between them, they produced and installed hundreds of Boulton & Watt steam engines towards the end of the 18th century which helped factories and mills make great technological advances.

The Abbey will also fly the Birmingham City Council flag while the service is taking place.

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Paralympian helps launch faster East Midlands trains

Paralympian Richard Whitehead helped to launch the new faster East Midlands to London trains this morning.

Trains will run up to eight minutes faster following £70m of investment and upgrades to 160 miles of track.

The Paralympic gold-medallist believes the quicker train journeys will improve community links and bring more business to the East Midlands.

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HS2 rail project has £3.3bn funding gap, watchdog says

The proposals have faced bitter opposition from campaigners. Credit: PA

The HS2 high-speed rail project has an estimated £3.3 billion funding gap which the Government has yet to decide how to fill, a report from a Whitehall spending watchdog said today.

It was not clear how HS2 - which runs through Tory heartlands and is bitterly opposed by some - would deliver and rebalance economic growth, the report by the National Audit Office (NAO) added.

The timetable for planning phase one of the project - from London to Birmingham with work due to start in 2016/17 - was "challenging", the NAO said.

This challenging timetable "makes delivering this work difficult and increases the risk that the programme will have a weak foundation for securing and demonstrating success in the future", the report said.

Claire Lomas trains for Nottingham to London cycle

Claire Lomas is training today for her big challenge at the end of April when she hand cycles from Nottingham to London. That is the equivalent of a marathon a day over three weeks.

Claire Lomas approaching the finish of the London Marathon last year Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Claire was paralysed from the waist down when she was injured in a horse riding accident. Last year she became the first person to complete the London Marathon using a robotic walking suit in a time of 17 days.

This year Claire will be cycling down to London with 60 other riders in a specially designed wheelchair.

  1. National

Journey times in High Speed rail network

The government has projected the following journey times when the HS2 high speed rail network is completed:

  • Manchester to Birmingham - 41m (roughly half of current journey time)
  • Manchester to London - 1h 8m (roughly half of current journey time)
  • Leeds to Birmingham - 57m (down from 1h 58m)
  • Leeds to London - 1hr 22m (down from 2h 12m)
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