Friday, July 20, 2018

News: HS2 parkway decision needed now

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David Higgins, the outgoing chairman of HS2 Ltd, says that the Government needs to make a decision on whether a potential parkway station on the high speed route through South Yorkshire will be included in the £55.7 billion project.

The Government has been carrying out a study into a potential station on the main HS2 line in South Yorkshire after it opted to back proposals to re-align the route through the region.

The option 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. Instead of travelling into a new station at Meadowhall, the HS2 line to Leeds would travel east of Rotherham following the M1 and M18 before heading through the Dearne Valley.

In 2016, the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling asked HS2 to study possible sites for a parkway station but a report, due in 2017, has not been published.

Alongside Wales, Bramley and Hooton Roberts in Rotherham, also on the shortlist was Mexborough, Hickleton and Clayton in Doncaster plus sites at Hemsworth and Fitzwilliam before the previously proposed new HS2 depot at Crofton in West Yorkshire.

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David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, said: "In my report on options to serve South Yorkshire, published in 2016, I called on HS2 Ltd and the Secretary of State to consider the potential for a parkway station on the high speed line, which could serve the South Yorkshire areas as a whole, and to extend HS2 services beyond Sheffield Midland to serve locations such as Barnsley and Rotherham.

"Work has since been undertaken in this area and ultimately this is a decision for the Secretary of State for Transport. As we move towards submission of the hybrid Bill for Phase 2b into Parliament, a decision will be needed on whether to include provisions for a potential parkway station in the scheme design.

"Including passive provision for a parkway would allow the infrastructure to be future proofed to meet the future needs of communities and businesses in South Yorkshire."

The government said in 2017 that it intends to bring forward a third hybrid Bill for phase 2b in 2019.

The delay in whether a station is included, and on where it might go, has also caused headaches for the Sheffield city region (SCR) who were provided with £1.3m in Government funding to study the impacts of the new route and how it can get the most out of HS2.

The high-level Government study considered eight possible locations based on the assumed HS2 route through the SCR. However, it did not go so far as to examine the potential economic or social benefits from a Parkway at each location or investigate the environmental impact.

The HS2 Growth Study for the SCR has been delayed. An evidence base report and a connectivity study was commissioned first, whilst the business, skills and employment workstream was postponed.

A report to the SCR Combined Authority in March explained that uncertainty had made it difficult to accurately quantify or identify the economic benefits, adding: "This has been exacerbated by the ongoing uncertainty over whether there will be a parkway station in South Yorkshire and its precise location. Such a station could have significant impacts on the overall economic position."

At the start of July, HS2 Ltd was asked by the Department for Transport to begin preparatory works for the future electrification of a 25km section of the Midland Main Line from Clay Cross to Sheffield Midland Station. Confirming works on the spur for HS2, no announcement has yet been made on paying for the Northern Loop out of Sheffield.

HS2 Ltd website

Images: HS2 Ltd

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