Tuesday, June 2, 2015

News: Sheffield to Leeds links looked at as HS2 gathers pace

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HS2 will be built and those behind the £50 billion project are looking at the case for speeding up construction of the Sheffield to Leeds section.

The national infrastructure project aims to provide extra capacity to handle increasing demand on the rail network. By 2033, a South Yorkshire station will be on the proposed high speed route from London to Leeds via Birmingham and the East Midlands. The chairman of HS2 Ltd, David Higgins, has proposed bringing forward completion from 2033 to 2030.

Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin confirmed that high-speed rail and Northern Powerhouse are a priority in speech in Leeds. He said that the The full "Y" network of HS2 will be built - From London to Birmingham and Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds. Construction is set to start in just two years.

South Yorkshire is included on the route to Leeds with plans including the proposed location of a HS2 station at Meadowhall announced in 2013.

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 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 has reiterated its stance that the location should be based on achieving the greatest economic benefit.

At the end of 2014, Sir David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, reiterated his view that Sheffield Meadowhall is the right answer for the South Yorkshire hub but admitted that the final decision is "finely balanced." Patrick McLoughlin has said that he would wait for further evidence from representatives in the Sheffield city region (SCR) before making a final decision on the location of the proposed South Yorkshire HS2 station.

In his speech yesterday the Transport Secretary confirmed that legislation would be prepared in this Parliament, looking at bringing HS2 to Crewe faster than planned, subject to further analysis and decisions on the preferred route.

Work will also continue to look at ways of using the HS2 line to introduce faster regional services and at the case for speeding up construction of the Sheffield to Leeds section.

Building on the concept of High Speed 3 (HS3), the government will also progress plans to transform east to west rail connectivity with high-speed services linking Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull, radically reducing travel times, increasing frequencies and improving the customer experience. HS2 will also allow for the reorganisation and improvement of commuter routes across Yorkshire.

Julie Dore, leader at Sheffield City Council, said: "We all recognise that accessible, fast and convenient transport links between cities are absolutely key to driving growth across the north of England. HS2 and trans-Pennine investment together can play a crucial part in this.

"It is important that the right actions are taken now to connect the economic centres of the key northern cities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield to each other.

"This is the way that we will deliver the maximum economic impact from HS2 and is the only measurement that matters when decisions on route and station location are made."

The Government is set to make its Phase Two announcements this autumn, confirming the location of the South Yorkshire station.

HS2 Ltd website

Images: DfT

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