Sheffield Council leader - HS3 rail plans focus on ‘speed not economy’

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Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore has said the HS3 rail link plans focus on ‘speed and not economic growth’.

HS3 is a plan for an east to west link between Leeds and Manchester as part of the HS2 project and has been backed by the Government to help boost businesses, improve transport links and create jobs.

Under new proposals trains from Sheffield to Leeds could take 17 minutes rather than 41 now, to Birmingham 38 minutes, and to London one hour nine minutes, to stimulate economies.

However, those times apply if the trains leave from a station at Meadowhall - and a report from HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins says his view is the South Yorkshire hub should be there, despite a campaign for it to be located in the city centre as part of a wider regeneration plan.

Coun Julie Dore, a HS2 growth task force member, said: “I said before the report was launched that HS2 was about jobs, growth and return on investment.

“While it’s welcome the Government are making the right noises about HS2, whether or not it makes the lasting difference in transforming our economy will depend upon the right decisions being taken now.

“For Sheffield, having a city centre station is fundamental to the future of our economy.

“A city centre station create 6,500 more jobs than a parkway station by allowing Sheffield city centre to connect with not only London but our other leading cities.

“City centres are the hubs of job creation, particularly for high skilled jobs.

“This means it is vital that the public transport links are put in place to allow the city centre to city centre connectivity that cities like Sheffield need to compete, attract business and secure the jobs and industries of the future that they need.

“At the same time as Sheffield has being given a station located outside the city centre, other leading cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham are given city centre stations meaning Sheffield is at a competitive disadvantage.”

“The key test for the government in this week’s Higgins Report was to move away from pure rhetoric about HS2 transforming the economy and instead step up and make the big decisions needed to achieve this.

“Today they have failed in this respect and it is no good just ‘talking the talk’ about HS2 being essential to economic growth in the north.

“If Government are serious about this they have to listen to the experts who are saying that it is crucial that links are made between the centres of our leading cities.

“Given the overwhelming evidence and basic common sense supporting stations being located in city centres and not out of town, it is astonishing that in Sheffield we are still facing the prospect of a station located at Meadowhall.

“When we’re talking about a 21st Century economy which is defined by job growth concentrated in city centres, a parkway station located four miles outside of the centre of Sheffield isn’t going to cut it.”