Thursday, October 10, 2013

News: Council leaders back HS2, wait on station location reports


Local council leaders have reiterated their support for a high speed station in the Sheffield city region but are waiting to see which precise location is best.

HS2 is the Government's £50 billion high speed rail project that aims to provide extra capacity to handle increasing demand. By 2033, a South Yorkshire station 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.

A report by KPMG recently estimated that HS2 could add between £0.5 billion and £0.9 billion each year to the economic output of South Yorkshire.

The proposed location of an intermediate HS2 station at Meadowhall (pictured) was announced earlier this year and public consultation is underway that will influence the decision on a final route, station and depot options by the end of 2014.

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

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).

Sheffield City Council has recently expressed its continued support for the station to be located at Victoria, closer to Sheffield city centre.

At a meeting this week, the nine local authority leaders from the Sheffield City Region reiterated their collective support for the Government's plans for HS2 rail services north of Birmingham.

Leaders believe that government plans to include a rail station in the Sheffield City Region underline its place at the heart of longer term UK economic growth plans.

Cllr Sir Stephen Houghton CBE, chairman of the Shadow Combined Authority, said: "The SCR Authority's nine leaders all fully back Government plans for a new high speed rail network. The Government's decision to locate a station in the Sheffield City Region recognises its strategic economic importance to future UK growth plans.

"Local leaders have asked for experts to provide further detailed information on the station location options in the Sheffield City Region before reaching a final decision on which station to support.

"The leaders' final decision will be to back the station which offers the maximum economic benefit for the Sheffield City Region, subject to affordability."

The leaders of the nine councils of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales and North East Derbyshire meet regularly to make decisions that will boost growth in the Sheffield City Region.

The group is called the Sheffield City Region "shadow" Authority, and is expected to be legally recognised as a combined authority following a period of Government consultation which ended this month.

HS2 website

Images: HS2 Ltd


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