Friday, April 7, 2017

News: LEP HS2 response shows lack of consensus in the Sheffield city region

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The response to the latest HS2 consultation from the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Combined Authority has been published and shows neither "support or objection to the Phase 2b route currently being consulted upon."

The Government is minded to approve a new proposed route between Birmingham and Leeds, switching from a route into a new station at Sheffield Meadowhall with a new option that 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.

Consultation ended last month on the HS2 line to Leeds that would travel east of Rotherham following the M1 and M18 before heading through the Dearne Valley.

The LEP, which brings together business leaders and local politicians to make decisions that drive economic growth and create new jobs, and the Combined Authority, which provides the legal powers, have always been vocal in their support for HS2 coming to the Sheffield city region (SCR) but have always declined to commit to backing a specific site for a South Yorkshire station. Instead they have reiterated a stance that the location should be based on achieving the greatest economic benefit.

With changes to the route announced at the end of 2016, the official response states: "We support a route which best serves the economic interests of the SCR and provides the best connectivity across the whole region. The city region does not have an agreed preferred route.

"SCR leaders wish to see the project achieve the greatest possible level of job creation, connectivity and rail service, which delivers maximum economic growth benefits to the city region as a whole.

"Although SCR constituent authority leaders are agreed that HS2 is important for the future growth of the city region, this response does not constitute support or objection to the Phase 2b route currently being consulted upon. Our constituent local authorities have differing opinions on the most advantageous route, and will be responding individually with their views on matters of local and regional interest."

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Sheffield Council, who have pushed for the station to be in the city centre at Victoria, state that a proposed HS2 station at Midland still offers opportunities that would exceed what a parkway station at Meadowhall could have offered. It adds that a city centre location can align with plans to bring high speed rail between Northern cities (NPR) into the same location.

Rotherham Council has registered a strong opposition during the consultation and continues to back the Meadowhall option, stating that: "Rotherham is not served at all by the proposals, but suffers the devastating impact of the line."

Not backing either route, the LEP and Combined Authority response instead sets out what SCR would expect to see included in the proposals if the Government are minded to proceed with its preferred route option to the East of Rotherham.

This includes aspects mentioned by HS2, but not actually funded, such as a northern loop out of Sheffield and a Parkway station. Calls are also made for infrastructure upgrades and electrification, station enhancements, and links to the region's airport. It also asks for building to start from the North and for HS2 to ensure that disruption to homes and communities is minimised.
The response states: "SCR wants to ensure the City Region as a whole is well-served by HS2, while any adverse impacts on communities and the environment are minimised. We therefore remain strongly supportive of an HS2 station in Sheffield. In addition, should the revised route be approved, we would support the proposal for a Parkway station and a stop in Chesterfield.

"It is essential that the northern loop from Sheffield northwards with a junction to the main HS2 line near Clayton is built. This will support the Northern Powerhouse Rail objective for faster journey times between Sheffield and Leeds and allow HS2 trains to continue north from Sheffield to Leeds.

"It is important that, whichever route and station options are approved, the SCR is well served by HS2 trains to as wide a range of destinations as possible, complemented by NPR and improved local and regional services."

City region studies are being carried out on how to take advantage of HS2 and also how to mitigate the impact of the proposed route.

SCR LEP website

Images: HS2 Ltd


1 comments:

Mark Garlick,  April 20, 2017 at 10:08 AM  

I don't fully relate to Sheffield's own view on this. Yes, HS2 at the central Midland station seems a good idea for that city, at first. However, does Sheffield realise that it will be placed on a marginalised "spur" line, rather than the fast, through route that would be available at Meadowhall. Sheffield may find that:
1. relatively few HS2 trains are prepared to use the station there each day;
2. many trains will by-pass Sheffield altogether to get to Leeds more quickly using the fast alignment;
3. Very few trains, in reality, would be prepared to serve Sheffield without also being able to serve Leeds easily;
4. the beneficial fast local link between Meadowhall and Leeds (about 20 minutes) I recall will be lost, both for Sheffield and also for the wider area - including Rotherham.

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