Tuesday, June 28, 2016

News: Change of track for HS2 in South Yorkshire

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Cost and schedule pressures on the £55.7 billion High Speed 2 (HS2) project could lead to the South Yorkshire station not being located at Meadowhall as originally planned.

Construction on HS2, the high speed North to South rail link that aims to provide extra capacity to handle increasing demand, will begin during this Parliament and has been given a funding envelope of £55.7 billion in 2015 prices. It should reach Birmingham in 2026 and Manchester and Leeds by 2033.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has been keeping an eye on the project and has this week published a report that concludes that the 2026 target opening date for phase 1 is at risk despite good progress and that increasing costs would result in reduced programme scope, and lower the benefit cost ratio.

At the 2015 Spending Review, the estimated cost of phase 2 exceeded available funding by £7 billion. Since then work by the Department of Transport, HS2 Ltd and a review commissioned by the Cabinet Office has identified potential savings of £9 billion, £2 billion of which have been secured.

The Department asked HS2 Ltd to explore options for reducing the programme scope in ways that do not have a significant impact on programme benefits.

One of these options is to scrap the station at Meadowhall and there are ongoing discussions about providing HS2 services into the station in Sheffield city centre.

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The NAO report states that: "The Department [for Transport] and HS2 Ltd are exploring options to locate the HS2 stop in the city centre which they believe could save around £768m, and make a significant contribution to meeting the affordability challenge for phase 2b. HS2 Ltd's analysis suggests that this will not have a substantial negative impact on the overall benefit–cost ratio for the programme. It could, however, mean that a different set of communities will be affected by the plans than under the currently planned route and station location."

It goes on: "The Department expects the Chairman of HS2 Ltd, Sir David Higgins to make a recommendation about the location of the Sheffield station later in summer 2016.

"It will be important that the final decision about the location of the station is well informed by an understanding of the possible impacts on the potential growth and regeneration benefits and on the wider rail system."

Sheffield Council believes that the findings of its own reports highlight that a city centre location would maximise the economic growth in the North and add that the decision to select Meadowhall is based on an "outdated approach to transport investment."

The council has been pushing for a station to be built at Victoria, closer to the city centre, that would add £680m to the cost of the project. It also argues that, as proposals are now being developed for HS3 - a TransNorth high speed rail link connecting the North's great cities - it would be illogical for HS2 going to an out of town parkway station whilst the Northern Powerhouse Rail project goes to the city centre.

In 2014, a direct route via a spur terminating at Sheffield Midland station was examined again but was rejected as it did not provide onwards connections and, while this provided limited benefits for the city centre market, it "did not provide the connections and journey times necessary to serve the wider Sheffield city region effectively, particularly Rotherham and Barnsley."

Volterra, consultants working for Sheffield Council, warned in 2013 that a spur off the main HS2 line and into Sheffield city centre, would result in only one train per hour. With a station at Meadowhall, indicative service patterns showed six trains per hour in each direction stopping in South Yorkshire. A total of ten trains per hour are expected to serve the eastern network in each direction.

Further work will need to be done on the potential for a loop away from the main HS2 line, through Sheffield city centre and rejoining the main HS2 line.

HS2 Ltd website

Images: SYPTE

5 comments:

Mr me June 28, 2016 at 10:01 AM  

I dont think a station in Sheffield city centre would be a saving,infact I would say it would be considerably more expensive.If the Station isnt going to be at Meadowhall,I can see the station for area been on a totally greenfield site adjacent to M1,Catcliffe/Orgreave maybe.Sheffield wont be happy!

Cllr Nigel Simpson June 28, 2016 at 11:39 AM  

We don't need it.
We NEED electrification to enhance
the 2:15 hrs express to London.
Common sense

Anonymous,  June 28, 2016 at 11:55 AM  

Sounds like corruption to me, sounds like we are being primed ready to accept a back room deal as Sheffield wanted this all along, forget the rest of the "City Region" as long as Sheffield's alright. Don't know why we even bother having a "Sheffield City Region" cause Sheffield's only in it for itself.

Mr me June 29, 2016 at 1:06 PM  

As a councillor can you tell us,will Rotherham along with Barnsley be objecting this plan?

Anonymous,  June 29, 2016 at 7:57 PM  

What about the rest of the county, Are we all forgotten about as usual ?

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