Tuesday, May 17, 2022

News: HS2 alternative routes through Rotherham


A number of alternatives to the HS2 route through Rotherham have been drawn up.

The Government wants to see whether "similar or better benefits could be obtained in a more affordable way, earlier and allow for an iterative approach to delivery."

The government announced in November that the HS2 Phase 2b Eastern leg will no longer reach Leeds through the communities in the east of Rotherham. Instead, the completion of the electrification of the Midland Main Line (MML) (due in the early 2030s) would allow high speed journeys from London to Chesterfield and Sheffield in the same times to those originally proposed by HS2.

The Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands also scaled back ambitions for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and added that a study of route options to take HS2 to Leeds will be led by Network Rail but no timescale was given.

A government commissioned document shows what other routes and upgrades could be used to inform strategic decisions on the future of the HS2 Phase 2b Eastern Leg which was due to go through the East of Rotherham, affecting Wales, Aston, Ulley, Brampton-en-le–Morthen, Thurcroft, Bramley, Ravenfield and Hooton Roberts.

One option is to upgrade the East Coast Mainline (ECML), but the report's authors, Mott MacDonald admit that "it seems that this alternative does not meet Government’s objectives" as "sizeable locations such as Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Derby lose the bulk of journey time and frequency benefits."

The proposal mentioned above to complete the electrification of the Midland Main Line and connect to the HS2 line in the Midlands is said to "potentially be less than a third of the cost of the Eastern Leg, however it would not deliver many of the benefits for locations further north that would occur if the Eastern Leg went ahead as planned."

The current thinking is described as "an interim state" and a good compromise of rail improvements and costs savings that would open up the possibility to other versions of the Eastern Leg.

The consultants have identified how Sheffield and Leeds could be connected using a new HS2 line coming south from Leeds and potential Northern Powerhouse Rail upgrades North of Sheffield to South Kirby in Wakefield.

NPR proposals have not been fully included in the study but this option would include an upgrade and electrification of the route north of Sheffield, a new station for Rotherham on the mainline and a potential new Parkway station on the existing line through the Dearne Valley.

With this option, there is an indication in the report that long distance high speed trains would regularly serve Rotherham and the Dearne Valley.

Costs would be less than half the cost of the full Eastern Leg at up to £32bn, but the cost of the required NPR infrastructure has not yet been included in the estimate.

Also included is a hybrid package of infrastructure interventions that would enable HS2 trains to serve the major locations on the original Eastern Leg but again avoid areas such as Bramley in Rotherham and the Shimmer estate in Mexborough.

After East Midlands Parkway, one option is to upgrade and electrify the Erewash Valley line and then do the same to the route between Clay Cross Junction and Masborough Junction near Rotherham, enabling mainly 115mph running. Known as the "Old Road," this route enters the Rotherham borough alongside Rother Valley Country Park, heads between Treeton and Catcliffe / Waverley and through Templeborough to the old mainline station.

Beyond Rotherham "a new high speed line between broadly Rotherham and Leeds, known as the M18 Short Alignment" would connect to the northern leg of the currently proposed Eastern leg into Leeds.

With this option, there is an indication in the report that long distance high speed trains would regularly serve Rotherham with Cross Country and HS2 services using the upgraded Old Road route and the electrified MML.

Another option for a hybrid package would include "significant new sections of high speed line" east of Nottingham, crossing the East Coast Mainline (ECML) north of Newark and heading north to rejoin the ECML north of Doncaster to connect to Leeds and York.

With this option, there would be fewer HS2 services at Rotherham but more stops for a potential Dearne Valley Parkway station instead.

These hybrid options are given an estimated cost of between £18.7bn and £22.9bn (compared to HS2's £32bn) and the report concludes that they "could deliver most of the benefits of Phase 2b to locations in the north of England and generally a better level of connectivity to/from the East Midlands and adjoining parts of the country."

The "alignments would seem to meet Government’s priorities and offer a significant potential cost saving over the current proposal."

Whilst the Government ponders on how best to take HS2 services to Leeds, safeguarding of the previously proposed high speed route through Rotherham remains in place, extending the period of uncertainty for property owners.

HS2 website

Images: HS2 Ltd


Anonymous,  May 17, 2022 at 3:16 PM  

Lots of maybe’s & if & buts etc however there isn’t really anything new here! Same old waffle!

Anonymous,  May 18, 2022 at 1:13 PM  

Just bin it.

Anonymous,  May 18, 2022 at 6:15 PM  

£30,000 better off thanks to HS2 compo, even after it was 'cancelled' 😂

Anonymous,  May 18, 2022 at 11:16 PM  

Knew from day one that HS2 eastern leg wouldn't happen due to costs,(work in railway industry)were were told not to comment on what we knew.Good possibility of upgrades to midland mainline and new mainline station in Rotherham.Watch this space!😏

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