SHEFFIELD Council’s opposition leader Shaffaq Mohammed has called for the planned new high speed rail line to be put across the Wicker Arches with a new station on the old Victoria site.
The Lib Dem group chief believes the proposal would attract investment to regenerate the surrounding area including the markets site, which will be vacant once stalls are moved to The Moor.
He added that the existing trackbed on either approach to the Wicker could be used, as it is in a straight line, meaning the railway could be brought close to the city centre easily whilst avoiding demolition of buildings.
Victoria Station was on the old Great Central Railway from London to Manchester but shut in 1970.
Coun Mohammed said: “I believe the new high speed rail station should be close to Sheffield city centre in order to maximise the economic benefits.
“Doncaster already has services to London taking 90 minutes so there would be no advantage to travelling to the high speed line, when it would only be 15 minutes quicker.
“Improvements to the existing Midland Main Line mean journey times from Sheffield will be brought below two hours.
“Therefore, siting the high speed station out of the city would see many people lose the benefits of the new line because it wouldn’t be quicker when you add on the time travelling there.
“Putting the new line close to the old Victoria station and using the Wicker viaduct would give Sheffield full advantage from high speed rail.
“The line in and out is still there and there is room to build the new tracks - also, you wouldn’t have to knock down buildings. It would provide huge potential for regeneration in that area, which badly needs it.”
Ellie Bennett, operations manager at Wicker Pharmacy, agreed. She said: “It’s a superb idea. It would be great to see the Wicker viaduct in proper use again - at the moment the only trains on it are to Stocksbridge steelworks.
“It would stop all the vandalism happening to the arches and ensure the people of Sheffield benefit from the new line.”
But Sheffield South East Labour MP Clive Betts said: “I understand a site near Meadowhall was being considered because it would be closer to Rotherham and Barnsley so they could also have the benefits of high speed rail.”
Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole said no specific sites have yet been proposed for the route and station.