Wednesday, November 16, 2016

News: The case against HS2 M18 route

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Local MPs, working with local community action groups, and drawing on HS2 documents and other official sources, have been making their case against the proposed changes to the route of HS2 through South Yorkshire.

They believe that Meadowhall still presents the best option for the region, a view echoed by Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce and Rotherham Council.

In a personal note for the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, Wentworth and Dearne's John Healey MP and Doncaster's Ed Miliband MP summarise their main concerns about the new proposed HS2 route through South Yorkshire. It compares the proposed new Eastern route with the previously published route via Meadowhall with an HS2 station.

The initial argument centres on the reduced connectivity for South Yorkshire. With a spur line to Sheffield from Chesterfield not being High Speed, journey time to from London increases from 68 minutes to Meadowhall to 79 minutes to Sheffield, 83 minutes if you include a stop in Chesterfield.

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 show five 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.

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The note adds that, a loop North from Sheffield is not yet committed to and that HS2 has disclosed that their plan is for any train to Birmingham, to turn round and go back to London not to go on to Sheffield, and that there is no HS2 Birmingham to Leeds services via Sheffield.

The MPs state that the loss of connectivity significantly reduces the economic benefits to the South Yorkshire area and that diminished connectivity for Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster with the new proposed route diminishes the potential economic gains. They also believe that not yet published studies that focus on the economic impact of the routes demonstrates a much-reduced GVA per annum (a measure of economic output) from the new route compared to the Meadowhall route.

Opponents to the change also believe that HS2 has no official figure predicting how many homes are at risk under the latest plans. Adding that: "Using up-to-date maps, local groups suggests around 500 demolitions on the new route, compared to 100 on the Meadowhall route."

The DfT has stated that the M18 route reduces capital costs and provides a cost saving in the region of £1bn including contingency (whilst providing for a northern junction at Clayton). Opponents argue that these potential savings do not include the cost of any line upgrade into and out of Sheffield, nor the costs of an "essential" South Yorkshire parkway station on the new HS2 route.

The Government has said that, in line with the Sir David Higgins route proposals from July, it proposes that "HS2 should serve Sheffield with a connection to the existing station with the main route be moved further east." Consultation is taking place before a final decision is made next year.

The MPs are calling for the consultation to be a comparative consultation on both the new route with the Sheffield Midland spur and the original Meadowhall to fully investigate the economic and connectivity benefits of both routes.

HS2 Ltd website

Images: HS2 Ltd


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