Rail decision must be made

Tim Hale
Tim Hale
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Choose Sheffield city centre or Meadowhall as the location for the HS2 station – but do it soon to end the uncertainty for business.

That’s the message from Tim Hale, chair of Sheffield Chamber’s transport forum, in a wishlist of key issues to tackle in 2014.

Improving access around junction 34 of the M1 and sorting out city centre congestion will be crucial over the next 12 months, he says.

But selecting a site for the HS2 stop is vital.

He said: “No decision is expected until the start of 2014 at the earliest. Unfortunately, this continuing saga permits no conclusions being reached regarding the blight on commercial and domestic premises which may be affected.

“This is extremely unsettling to the companies involved and we continue to lobby hard for a decision to be made as soon as possible, and for generous and rapid settlements to be made to the companies concerned.”

In the city centre, tackling ring road bottlenecks and improving access to Midland Station were important and while the new link road under Tinsley Viaduct would help ease congestion near Meadowhall, it was unlikely to solve all the potential traffic problems in the area after a giant Next, Meadowhall extension – and possibly an IKEA – were built, he added.

Looking back on 2013, he was pleased to see several projects take off including the start of Amey’s Streets Ahead scheme to repair Sheffield’s roads – although it was difficult for businesses to obtain work from the company or its subcontractors.

He said: “This is proving a difficult issue, as the names of the subcontractors are not in the public domain, so approaching them for work is not easy. Several ‘meet the buyer’ events were held, but while they were welcome, they are only part of the solution.”

Other highlights were the start of work on the FARRRS link road to Doncaster Sheffield Airport and a new car park at Dore station.

The announcement that electrification of the Midland Mainline would begin in 2015 and plans for new lines at Dore and improvements to the Hope Valley line were also welcome.

He added: “There is no doubt that while a number of issues to improve transport in the Sheffield City Region are progressing, there are still many more on the list which need to be resolved to support long-term economic growth.

“We’re expecting a busy 2014!”