Friday, January 10, 2014

News: Sheffield city region ITA backs Meadowhall as HS2 location

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Transport leaders in the Sheffield City Region (SCR) are backing Meadowhall as the location for the South Yorkshire HS2 station, denting any hopes of a station closer to Sheffield city centre.

HS2 is the Government's £50 billion high speed rail project that aims to provide extra capacity to handle increasing demand. By 2033, a South Yorkshire station will be on the proposed route from London to Leeds via Birmingham and the East Midlands. With trains travelling at speeds of up to 250 mph, and each with up to 1,100 seats per train, passengers will be able to get from Leeds in 17 minutes, Birmingham in 38 minutes and from London in one hour and nine minutes.

Plans including the proposed location of a HS2 station at Meadowhall were announced last year with an expectation that it would support the creation of around 5,000 jobs in the station development regeneration areas around Meadowhall and the Lower Don Valley.

A recent report by KPMG recently estimated that HS2 could add between £0.5 billion and £0.9 billion each year to the economic output of South Yorkshire.

In response to the national consultation, the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), on behalf of the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (ITA), confirms support for the proposed station location at Meadowhall, and is asking for more to be done to improve the connectivity between the HS2 and the rest of the Sheffield City Region.

The response is expected to be signed off this week at a meeting of the ITA. The ITA is the locally accountable body responsible for the strategic direction of transport planning and delivery in the South Yorkshire whose responsibilities are likely to be taken over as the SCR moves towards establishing a Combined Authority that would have responsibility for transport, economic development and regeneration.

Sheffield City Council has expressed its continued support for the station to be located at Victoria, closer to Sheffield city centre, that would would bring benefits (including an estimated 9,000 jobs), but it would also involve considerable additional cost (an extra £1bn).

The Shadow Combined Authority have asked for experts to provide further detailed information on the station location options in the Sheffield City Region before reaching a final decision on which station to support.

The consultation response from the ITA shows that the region is gearing up for an HS2 station at Meadowhall and is planning to develop a masterplan to ensure that it operates efficiently and maximises growth in the surrounding areas.

The response states that: "HS2 will further enhance the role of Meadowhall as a transport hub. We are supportive of the Meadowhall location, but only on the basis of a package of measures being provided that will enable it to reach its full economic potential."

One of the main requirements is for easy access from Meadowhall to Sheffield city centre, undeniably the main economic centre for the city region. Experts are hoping for support to ensure Meadowhall provides "as good, if not better, access from the city centre as is currently provided to Sheffield Midland station." Easy access would ensure that more people use the high speed service and also help overcome any perceived economic disbenefts of the location of the HS2 station.

The KPMG study also showed that the economic impact of the proposed investment in high speed rail on Rotherham could be massive, increasing output by as much as £272m each year. The borough is in close proximity to Meadowhall with good connectivity to the town centre that is just three miles away. The links are set to be improved with committed transport schemes such as the tram-train and the Bus Rapid Transit system.

The response also raises issues on the routes impact on current commercial properties, enterprise zone (EZ) sites and other large regeneration schemes such as the Waverley development in Rotherham where 1,000 proposed houses could be affected.

Other issues are also discussed including the impact on residential properties and on existing roads and railway lines, the impact on the environment and flood risks.

Read the latest Rothbiz article on the need to improve connectivity to a HS2 station at Meadowhall here.

HS2 website

Images: SYPTE

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