Multi-billion HS3 plan for Sheffield ‘set for green light this week’

George Osborne on the Andrew Marr Show this morning

George Osborne on the Andrew Marr Show this morning

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A multi-billion pound high-speed rail link designed to cut journey times between Sheffield and other major northern cities is set to be given the green light this week.

Reports say chancellor George Osborne will confirm more details about the HS3 scheme in his Budget on Wednesday.

A report from the Department of Transport endorsing the business case for the project is also expected to be published later in the week.

It is hoped HS3 could cut rail journey times between Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds to 30 minutes and is expected to cost between £7bn and £10bn.

Parallel proposals for a new trans-Pennine tunnel connection Sheffield and Manchester are also being considering through a separate study.

Mr Osborne has said he wants to create a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ to rival the economic supremacy of London and the South-east - with transport improvements a key part of the strategy.

But concerns have been raised about HS3 by campaigners who are also bidding to stop the larger-scale HS2 scheme to provide new connections from London to the Midlands and the North.

A rail industry source told the Independent that it is hoped HS3 may be able to use the same stations as HS2.

He said: “This document starts to build up a bit of a business case for HS3.

“Officials would like to link it with HS2 and this will show how that can be done. This will endorse HS3.”

The idea of HS3 was backed by Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg last year following a report suggesting the plan from HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins.

Mr Clegg said at the time: “This report lays to rest, once and for all, claims made by those who don’t believe high speed rail should pass through South Yorkshire.

“Detailed analysis shows this is vital for the Yorkshire economy and it must now be delivered.

“As a Sheffield MP, it is essential to me this is not just confined to improving connections between Manchester and Leeds, but helps us in Sheffield and the whole of the north of England too.”

It is currently planned that Sheffield’s new high-speed station will be based at Meadowhall, but Sheffield Council are campaigning for it to have a city centre location instead.

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