Monday, March 4, 2013

News: Alternative HS2 route east of Rotherham considered


An alternative route through the east of Rotherham was considered for the £33 billion high speed rail project with Thurcroft, Bramley, Hellaby and Wath upon Dearne indentied as locations for a potential station.

The proposed location of a HS2 station at Meadowhall was announced earlier this year but documents released at the same time show that experts examined the possibility of the high speed route following the M18 before heading to Leeds between Swinton and Mexborough.

By 2033, the South Yorkshire station at Meadowhall, just three miles from the centre of Rotherham, will be on the proposed route from London to Leeds via Birmingham and the East Midlands. With trains travelling at speeds of up to 250 mph, and each with up to 1,100 seats per train, passengers will be able to get from Leeds in 17 minutes, Birmingham in 38 minutes and from London in one hour and nine minutes.

Five trains per hour are expected to Leeds, three trains per hour to Birmingham and three trains per hour to London.

Despite the name of the project, one of the main aims is to provide extra capacity to handle increasing demand and the new infrastructure has the potential to "free up" space on existing rail lines. For example, the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) estimates that there will be 1,000 spare seats per direction per day between Doncaster and Leeds.

HS2 is also expected to support the creation of around 5,000 jobs in the station development regeneration areas around Meadowhall and the Lower Don Valley.

Councillor Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Council, welcomed the announcement. He said: "Although the actual opening of the line is still some way off it is clear that our work on regeneration projects such as the Advanced Manufacturing Park and bringing new business investment into Rotherham will be greatly enhanced by the High Speed link.

"We will now be working closely with our local partners to see how we can maximise the benefits it will bring and ensure the new station is well served by transport links from Rotherham."

Future transport projects linking Rotherham and the new station include the innovative tram train pilot, the Bus Rapid Transit system on the new Tinsley Link Road, and further down the line, the electrification of the current rail network.
Documents released at the same time as the announcement show that initial plans are for the proposed station at Meadowhall to sit on a 4km (2.5 mile) long viaduct that runs parallel and to the west of the M1's Tinsley Viaduct on land currently used as an overspill car park. The six tracks would be 22 metres above ground level, about the same as the adjacent level of the viaduct.

At ground level, the four-platform conventional network station at Meadowhall Interchange would be modified by moving the Rotherham platforms nearer to the high speed station and constructing new pedestrian links. And in order to provide a direct interchange with the Supertram, a new tram stop would be proposed below the high speed station.

A shortlist of possible locations for the South Yorkshire station came down to Meadowhall and Sheffield city centre (at Midland station or Victoria) and the government recognised that the option of building a station in the centre of Sheffield would bring benefits (including an estimated 9,000 jobs), but it would also involve considerable additional cost (an extra £1bn).

The documents also reveal that sites in Rotherham were also placed on a longlist of possible station locations, including Magna at Templeborough and Catcliffe / Waverley.

Potential stations sites at Wales, Thurcroft, Bramley, Hellaby and Wath upon Dearne were also considered when experts examined the possibility of the high speed route running to the east of Rotherham.

Engineers' reports show the preferred route to Meadowhall entering Rotherham at Killamarsh following the line of the disused Chesterfield Canal. At the Rother Valley Country Park, it is set to pass between the park and the suburb of Beighton between the existing rail corridor and the embankment of the redundant rail corridor on the Sheffield / Rotherham border. The design speed would fall to 224 mph in order to minimise impacts on the park.

An 850 metre viaduct would take the line across Sheffield Road at Fence and the River Rother flood plain. A further 2.2km long viaduct, eight to ten metres above the valley floor, would then take the route near to the £100m Waverley development site before entering a 22 metre deep cutting to pass beneath the Parkway at the site of the Morisson's supermarket at Catcliffe.

Through part of the Sheffield Business Park at the former airport, the route would emerge from the cutting and would then pass on an embankment along the site of the former Tinsley Marshalling Yards and through to Meadowhall.

The proposals are due to be refined and an extensive consultation on the preferred route, stations and depots is set to begin ahead of schedule later this year. The final route will be chosen by the end of 2014.

Homeowners living along the proposed route will be given access to a hardship scheme and with the government's preferred routes, Rotherham settlements "at which, or in the vicinity of which, a relatively higher risk of noise impacts have been identified" are Swallownest, Treeton, Catcliffe and Thorpe Hesley.

HS2 website

Images: HS2 Ltd


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