Friday, October 24, 2014

News: Sheffield still hopes HS2 will head to Victoria

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Sheffield Council is still holding out hope that a proposed South Yorkshire station on the £50 billion high speed rail project will be moved closer to Sheffield city centre, despite reports in the national media that HS2 Ltd is unlikely to change its mind.

Plans including the proposed location of a HS2 station at Meadowhall were announced last year. The location was backed by Rotherham Council, Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber and the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (SYITA) - the precursor to a Sheffield city region combined authority.

In response to the government's consultation, Sheffield City Council said that it is strongly opposed to the proposed route and believes that the current preferred station location chosen by Government is a mistake. Instead, a vision for an HS2 station at Victoria, closer to Sheffield city centre (pictured) is being put forward.

The Sheffield City Region (SCR) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has declined to commit to backing a specific site for a South Yorkshire station and instead reiterated its stance that the location should be based on achieving the greatest economic benefit.

The newly established combined authority set up a HS2 Programme Board, whose first job was to commission new reports from consultants Pell Frischmann on the two station locations and ensure that the region is ready to work on related infrastructure and funding bids when the final route is announced.

With the chairman of HS2 Ltd, Sir David Higgins, due to launch his next report on Monday, Councillor Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, outlined the need for the Government to focus on taking the actions needed to make sure cities like Sheffield benefit from the project.

"Under current plans Sheffield's HS2 station is only estimated to create 3,500 jobs compared to 29,700 in Manchester and 13,200 in Leeds. The key difference is that Sheffield will have a parkway station four miles outside the city centre in contrast to the other cities that have a station in the heart of their economic centres.

"This will put Sheffield City Region at a permanent competitive disadvantage compared to the neighbouring city regions and undermine Sheffield's role in a new Northern powerhouse economy.

"A city centre station would give extra jobs to all of the Sheffield City Region at a time when it is aiming to create 70,000 net new jobs."

A report in the Financial Times this week said that "Sir David Higgins is expected to rule out big changes to the UK's proposed north-south high-speed rail line as he battles to keep the project within a £50bn budget."

The costs of a through route and locating the station at Victoria have previously been estimated at an extra £1bn.

HS2 website

Images: Sheffield City Council

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