Fast trains between city centres are key to a ‘high speed north’, according to the National Infrastructure Commission - and HS2 should be used to create the network.
In a new report, the commission calls for the design of the northern phase of HS2 to ‘facilitate the development of the HS3 network, enhancing connectivity between Leeds and Sheffield’.
It calls for HS3 to be ‘kick-started’ and integrated with HS2, in its third report: High Speed North.
It adds: ‘Route decisions on the northern sections of HS2 to be announced later this year should support enhanced high-speed connections within the North, including between Leeds-Sheffield, Liverpool-Manchester, and Sheffield-Newcastle’.
Chairman, Lord Adonis, said: “If the North is to become a powerhouse it has to be better connected.”
The news is a boost to campaigners - including The Star - calling for an HS2 station in Sheffield city centre, a switch from the government’s choice of Meadowhall, to maximise the economic impact of the high spped line. Figures from HS2 Ltd show it would create 6,500 more jobs.
Sheffield city council leader Coun Julie Dore welcomed the NIC report saying it threw further weight behind the campaign.
She said: “This report puts forward a lot of the points we have been arguing for a long time. The 30 minute city-centre-to-city-centre connectivity for Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester, will be transformational to our economy, delivering the crucial links we need between our major cities.
“This report sets out how we can make this a reality but a Sheffield city centre HS2 station is essential to deliver it.
“The Leeds HS2 station location has been reviewed to take account of HS3 and connecting our city centres, that’s exactly what we need for Sheffield as well.
“Not only is there an overwhelming economic case for a HS2 city centre station in its own right, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that it is also essential for delivering HS3 to link Sheffield city centre with cities across the north of England.”
Speaking about HS2 the report states: “To maximise the benefits for the North, it will be important to ensure that design is integrated with the wider strategy for the transport network in the North, as it will have material consequences for the delivery of Transport for the North’s aspirational journey times between the northern cities and to onward destinations…
“Each of these options [Sheffield City Centre and Meadowhall] should be explored to identify how a journey time as close as possible to the 30-minute aim between Leeds and Sheffield city centres could be delivered, how the most effective proposal can be achieved most efficiently and how it can best be integrated with planning for the wider HS3 network.”
The NIC report builds on a Transport for the North report published last week which also called for 30-minute city centre to city centre connectivity between Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester.
It also welcomed the moving of Leeds’ HS2 station to the city centre, further supporting the case that a Sheffield city centre HS2 station is needed to deliver the northern transport strategy.
The National Infrastructure Commission was created to enable strategic decision making on infrastructure and is set to be established by legislation as an independent body.