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550 new buses for the West Midlands in £100m deal

A bus being unveiled at Alexander Dennis' factory in Scarborough Credit: ITV News Central

National Express West Midlands has signed a £100m deal for 550 new buses for its fleet across Birmingham & the Black Country.

The region's largest bus operator says the new vehicles will contain the very latest technology, including climate control, high-definition CCTV, and GPS systems which it says will improve reliability.

600 new buses are being made, of which around 550 will be coming to the West Midlands Credit: ITV News Central

The small & medium single decker, and double decker buses will be made by British firm Alexander Dennis Ltd, and will support more than 2000 jobs at its bases in Scarborough, Falkirk and in Surrey.

National Express says the buses are kitted out with all the latest technology Credit: ITV News Central

National Express say the investment is both a boost for passengers and also British business, and expect the new buses to be on the road by the end of the year.

The £100m deal will support 2000 British jobs. Credit: ITV News Central

Birmingham business welcome faster HS2 build

Sir David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, is calling for the building of Phase 2 of the project to be brought forward by six years Credit: HS2 Ltd

Business leaders in Birmingham have welcomed calls by the chairman of HS2 to speed up construction of the line northwards from Birmingham through Staffordshire to Manchester.

Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said:

“I welcome Sir David’s comments on the potential of HS2 to drive transformational regeneration. “HS2 has always been about increased rail capacity and the potential to use the station investment in particular as a catalyst for a far-reaching programme of physical and skills-led transformation.”

“Sir David is right to highlight the cost advantages of building quickly. There are also huge commercial benefits to be had from connecting, for example, the great cities in the North as soon as possible so that we can reap the rewards of the new business that will be created.

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National

Campaigners: HS2 costs an 'attempt to con the public'

Campaign manager for Stop HS2 campaign has said any "pretence" that costs of the High Speed rail network are under control are a "con".

Joe Rukin said: "David Higgins has spent three months looking for cost savings for HS2 and he hasn't found a single bean. Any pretence that the costs of HS2 are under control are a fraudulent attempt to con the public."

An anti HS2 sign in Whittington, Staffordshire. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

He added that the £50 billion cost was "always too low, and represents the cost if the whole project was built in one year and that year was 2011".

"We know that these costs will continue to escalate. The only answer is to cancel the project and go back to the drawing board right now," he said.

Read: HS2 boss wants to fast-track high speed rail project

National

Sir David Higgins: HS2 'vital for the future' of UK

HS2 boss Sir David Higgins has said the project was "vital for the future of the country".He added: "The cost and impact have to be recognised and acknowledged, but so too do the cost and impact of doing nothing.

Sir David Higgins. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

"Without HS2, the people of this country will continue to face the failures of our transport system on a daily basis.

"This contingency has pushed the price of phase one, from London to Birmingham, up to £21.4 billion with £3 billion for the trains, while the cost of the second phase, taking the line in a Y-shape to north west and north east England is put at £21.2 billion with around £4.5 billion for the trains."

Read: HS2 boss wants to fast-track high speed rail project

National

HS2 boss to say he would like to start second phase

Launching his report in Manchester, Sir David Higgins, HS2's recently appointed chairman, will say that he would like work to start on the second phase at the same time as the first phase.

An anti HS2 sign in Whittington, Staffordshire. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The second phase, taking the line in a Y-shape to north west and north east England is set for completion around 2032/33. He is also expected to recommend a completely new station at Euston - the site for the line's London terminus.

Sir David, the former London Olympics supremo who has joined HS2 Ltd after being Network Rail chief executive, is also expected to recommend scrapping plans to link HS2 with HS1, the London to Kent coast Channel Tunnel high-speed line.

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East Midlands Trains services resume after landslip

East Midlands Trains are running again north of Chesterfield Credit: PA

East Midlands Train services north of Chesterfield in Derbyshire are running again from today, after a landslip closed two sections of track last month.

Extremely wet weather led to a hillside becoming unstable between Chesterfield & Sheffield, putting two tracks at risk on February 18.

Since then a revised service has been in operation after one of the two tracks near Unstone was closed

Initial estimates indicated that services would be disrupted for four to six weeks. However work on site progressed better than expected, and the lines reopened this morning.

Network Rail thanked affected passengers for their patience, saying:

The work completed so far has prioritised making the track safe so that trains can run but work to fully stabilise the hillside will continue for several months yet. Trains will run at a slightly reduced speed past the worksite but this will not significantly affect journey times.

PHIL VERSTER, ROUTE MANAGING DIRECTOR FOR NETWORK RAIL

Government: "Not in the public interest to release this report"

An anti-HS2 campaigner from Coventry is calling for greater Government transparency after the Transport Secretary decided not to allow a report on the project to be made public.

It's thought the Major Projects Authority report raises questions about the timetable for the HS2 project and its cost implications.

The Government says:

“This Government is proud to lead the world on transparency...... .

.....Hard-working people rightly expect the Government to keep tight control over how their taxes are spent on major projects and that's just what the Government's Major Projects Authority is working with departments to do.

It's important to strike a balance between the benefits of transparency and protecting the ability of officials to 'speak truth to power'.

The Major Projects Authority will not be truly effective if officials fear that their frank advice to ministers could be disclosed.

The Government has decided that it is not in the public interest to release this report."

– Department for Transport Spokesperson
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