Tuesday, March 18, 2014

News: South Yorkshire's HS2 station could take eight years to build


Sir David Higgins has called for the proposed High Speed rail (HS2) project to be brought to the North quicker but has given the proposed station at Meadowhall an estimated construction phase of over eight years, longer than any other key section on the Northern routes, including the building of new stations in Leeds and Manchester.

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.

The new chairman of HS2 Ltd, David Higgins, has published his review of the project, including his thoughts on the progress made so far, its ongoing development and his plans for the future. In it, he proposes to deliver benefits, particularly benefits to the Midlands and the North, more quickly, bringing forward completion from 2033 to 2030.

Plans including the proposed location of a HS2 station at Meadowhall were announced last year and the Higgins review indicates that work on the Tinsley to Blackburn section, which includes the Meadowhall station, should begin in 2021 and finish halfway through 2029. Manchester stations are given estimated construction phases of three years with Leeds New Lane Station set to take six years to build.

Initial plans showed the proposed station at Meadowhall sitting on a 4km (2.5 mile) long viaduct that runs parallel and to the west of the M1's Tinsley Viaduct on land currently used as an overspill car park. 60 metres wide, the six tracks would be 22 metres above ground level, about the same as the adjacent level of the viaduct. In order to avoid the Firth Rixson and Chesterfield Special Cylinders premises, the line curves to the north of the station.

Sir David Higgins has also suggested that more work needs to be done on integrating HS2 into the existing rail network and potential improvements to it. He said: "HS2 should also be fully integrated into the plans that local authorities across the North are making to regenerate their particular economies and communities. It should form part of the effort to revitalise the northern economy as a whole.

"I have been struck by the growing recognition by civic leaders of the potential transformational effect that HS2 could have on the North, not just because of improved access to and from London, but also to increase the linkages, trade and development across the region, east to west and north to south."

In responding to the HS2 consultation, The Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) in the Sheffield city region called for a significant package of improvements to ensure that it reaches its full economic potential. This includes improving the connectivity from Meadowhall to Sheffield city centre, the tram-train, Bus Rapid Transit system, improvements to rail infrastructure and more carriages and feeder services, electrification of current rail lines, links to the region's airport and significant improvements to M1 Junction 33 and 34, and even realigning the M1 itself.

Higgins wants the Northern phase of HS2 to run alongside Network Rail's Strategic Business Plan for the five-year control period starting in 2019. This plan is set to include further electrification of rail routes to, and across, the North.

HS2 Ltd website

Images: SYPTE / ARUP


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