Thursday, September 22, 2016

News: Sheffield City Region LEP changes stance on HS2


The Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has changed its stance on HS2, recognising the impact that a proposed new route will have on areas of Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley.

Given a funding envelope of £55.7 billion in 2015 prices, the new North-South high speed train link should reach Birmingham in 2026 and Manchester and Leeds by 2033.

The South Yorkshire HS2 station location was initially chosen as Meadowhall but a new option announced in July proposes that HS2 services between London and Sheffield would take a spur off the high speed line and travel directly to the existing Sheffield Midland station using the existing railway line.

A city centre station solution for Sheffield high speed services would allow the main HS2 line to be built east of the previously proposed route, following the M1 and M18 through Rotherham before heading through the Dearne Valley.

LEPs are the Government's model to promote economic development and provide the strategic leadership required to set out local economic priorities, and better reflect the natural economic geography of the areas they serve. Private sector led, the board is made up of business people and the leaders of constituent councils.

Whilst vocal in its support for HS2 coming to the city region, the LEP has always declined to commit to backing a specific site for a South Yorkshire station and instead reiterated its stance that the location should be based on achieving the greatest economic benefit.

At a recent board meeting, a suggested amendment to support the revised HS2 proposal for the Sheffield city region was agreed. It notes that Sheffield Midland station becomes the HS2 station in Sheffield but adds that it understands the fact that Doncaster Council and Rotherham Council would continue to advocate for the Meadowhall HS2 station option.

Both Rotherham and Doncaster councils have passed motions opposing the changes to the HS2 route. Sheffield Council has long since lobbied for the HS2 station to be in the city centre.

The minutes show that the board "recognises the deep concern of local authorities over the impact on local communities of the proposed route of HS2 and understands that local authorities would put forward the strongest possible case for an alternative route which was less disruptive to local communities."

The 2013 route to Meadowhall affected development at Rotherham employment sites such as the former Laycast foundry at Fence, and impacts the Waverley development. The 2016 route east of Rotherham would affect Wales, Aston, Ulley, Thurcroft, Bramley, Hellaby, Ravenfield and Hooton Roberts.


The new recommendations would cut journey times on services heading to Leeds, York and Newcastle, and would also reduce the cost of the project by around £1 billion. Five high speed trains per hour were initially planned to stop at Meadowhall but only one or two high speed trains per hour are planned to stop at Sheffield Midland.

The LEP board adds that it notes "that the service frequency, speed of service and HS2 access to Birmingham and Leeds were less advantageous in the Midland Mainline spur solution than the alternative options and the LEP Board would lobby for improved service frequency and speeds."

HS2 Ltd believe that the new route would create the possibility of classic compatible services running through Sheffield Midland to other destinations, including Barnsley, Meadowhall and Rotherham. However, a link North from Sheffield Midland and back onto the HS2 line has not been confirmed but may be included in proposals for HS3 / Northern Powerhouse Rail which aims to link Sheffield with Leeds and Manchester in under 30 minutes.

The LEP is seeking "a clear and unequivocal commitment to constructing the loop north of Sheffield to the main HS2 line" and pressure is being applied for the Government to commission a study on the potential for a parkway station on the M18/Eastern leg route which could serve the South Yorkshire area as a whole.

A request was made by the LEP for an urgent meeting with Sir David Higgins, the head of HS2 who published the new route, to discuss current proposals and options for a Parkway station and improved connectivity. The LEP and combined authority transport team is considering the priorities for improved inter and intra region connectivity to ensure full economic advantage was taken of HS2 in the city region.

Sheffield City Region LEP website

Images: HS2 Ltd


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