Wednesday, August 31, 2016

News: Rotherham Council to vote on whether to oppose HS2

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Councillors at Rotherham Council are to discuss the re-routing of the High Speed (HS2) rail line through the borough next week after a motion was proposed in opposition to the changes, and the £55.7 billion scheme.

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 new option announced in July proposes that HS2 services between London and Sheffield would take a spur off the new north-south high speed line and travel directly to the existing Sheffield Midland station using the existing railway line. These trains therefore could potentially also call at Chesterfield.

A city centre station solution for Sheffield high speed services would allow the main HS2 line to be built east of the previously proposed route, following the M1 and M18 through Rotherham, and through less densely populated areas that would avoid the complexities of building a line via Meadowhall.

The new route would affect Wales, Aston, Ulley, Thurcroft, Bramley, Hellaby, Ravenfield and Hooton Roberts.

A motion is set to be brought before the full council meeting on September 7 by UKIP councillor John Turner who represents the Hellaby Ward. It sets out that the council should note the intent of the Government to create the new HS2 railway system and the present altered suggestion for the route to go through Aston and Bramley. It asks the members whether they want to "oppose the intent to re-route HS2" and "persuade the government to abolish the project entirely."

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In 2014, Rotherham Council backed Meadowhall as the location for the South Yorkshire HS2 station, stating in its consultation response: "RMBC anticipates that the beneficial economic impact of the HS2 station at Meadowhall will not be confined solely to the immediate proximity of the station itself but, with improved connections from Rotherham and the other urban centres in the Sheffield city region, the development and economic growth impact will be seen across the Sheffield city region (SCR)."

Without a clear consensus in the SCR, a number of alternative options were examined as Sheffield Council pushed for the South Yorkshire station to be located closer to the city centre. The prospect of HS3 - a TransNorth high speed rail link connecting the North's great cities - also meant that 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.

The options discounted include a costly plan to take the HS2 line through Sheffield Midland station and a HS2 loop through the unused Victoria station that was backed by Sheffield Council but discounted due to time penalties, costs and a lack of existing transport links.

The new spur would see two trains per hour into Sheffield on existing lines whilst the main HS2 line continues to carry trains serving Leeds and further North. 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.

The "classic compatible" trains could also stop at Chesterfield. Compared to the fastest existing service of 120 minutes, this would result in a fastest London to Sheffield service of around 83 minutes for those trains which stop at Chesterfield and of 79 minutes for those that do not.

The route would also be around £1 billion less expensive even when the links to the existing line and the necessary upgrades have been paid for.

Local politicians have continued to call for the Meadowhall station to be reinstated.

Images: HS2 Ltd


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