High speed rail link puts ‘dozens of homes at risk’

Controversial: Artist's impression of how the new high speed trains will look.
Controversial: Artist's impression of how the new high speed trains will look.
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DOZENS of homes and businesses in Sheffield could be bulldozed if plans for the new high speed rail network proceed, opponents claim.

Campaign groups have been formed against the planned HS2 network, mainly representing people living along the section of route from London to Birmingham, details of which have been announced.

Details of proposed lines northwards to Leeds via the East Midlands and Sheffield and to Manchester, have yet to be revealed.

Transport secretary Justine Greening is expected to make a decision on whether the £32 billion project should go ahead in the new year.

Jerry Marshall, chairman of AGAHST – Action Groups Against High Speed Two – said: “On the London to Birmingham route, more than 200 homes are set to be lost, along with business sites and there are stretches of line which pass very close to many more properties, sometimes within just a few feet.

“The line into Sheffield is likely to come up from north Derbyshire between Sheffield and Rotherham and, due to the 250mph speed of trains, it will have to be in a straight line.

“Dozens of homes and business premises will have to be demolished to make way for the tracks.”

He predicted the route could run east of Chesterfield, close to the old Great Central line from Sheffield Victoria to London, near suburbs such as Beighton and Woodhouse.

Mr Marshall said his group had analysed the Government’s business case that the line will deliver double the economic benefit compared to its cost – and claim the benefit will actually be half of what is being spent.

AGAHST claims the scheme is a ‘white elephant’ and the money would be better-spent improving the existing rail network through measures such as electrifying the Midland Main Line from Sheffield to London and improving the Sheffield to Manchester line.

But Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole said: “The route has yet to be announced but wherever there is a major infrastructure improvement, disruption is sadly inevitable.

On a much smaller scale, when building the inner relief road in Sheffield, we had to do deals with a few businesses on the route and I know some didn’t welcome the scheme.

“But on balance, businesses and residents have been better off since it opened. With high speed rail, if the business case does not stack up, the Government will not make the investment. All the evidence to date supports the Government’s cost-benefit analysis and the eastern line through Sheffield is expected to deliver a particularly high benefit.”