Expert fears South Yorkshire parkway station would fail

Artist's impression of high speed rail train in station.
Artist's impression of high speed rail train in station.
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A TRANSPORT expert has urged the Government to build a city centre station for the new high speed rail line in South Yorkshire – because a proposed station which people would have to drive to ‘probably wouldn’t work’.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said ‘parkway stations’ – outside city centres and accompanied by car parks or park-and-ride services – had often failed.

A route for the line through South Yorkshire has not yet been decided but there has been speculation there will be a single station for South Yorkshire, not in a city or town centre.

Giving evidence at the start of a Parliamentary inquiry into the proposed £32 billion high speed network Mr Joseph said: “If you don’t look at the capacity for getting people to and from them, then parkway stations won’t work. We would argue they probably won’t work anyway.”

The amount of time it takes to travel to the parkway station could end up outweighing the time savings on current rail journeys, he said.

He added city centre transport improvements would also be needed to avoid urban areas becoming even more gridlocked by people heading to catch the trains.

Among other witnesses at the inquiry, which will report back to the Government in the autumn, was the Rail Freight Group which called for the whole project to be turned on its head by starting construction in Leeds and Manchester and working down to London, rather than starting in the capital and building north.

An independent report commissioned by the committee concluded there is a ‘degree of uncertainty’ around the financial benefits of the, Government project.

There is ‘relatively little evidence presented’ on the regional and socio-economic impacts of the HS2 programme, said the report by consultants Oxera.

It was immediately seized on by critics of the project, which the Government hopes will tackle the north-south divide.

In written evidence to the committee, the Department for Transport said analysis indicated that the proposed network would generate ‘economic benefits with a net present value of around £44bn’.

But the Oxera report said: “The monetised estimates are surrounded by a degree of uncertainty.”

Oxera also said that the regeneration benefits of areas in the vicinity of high-speed rail hubs are likely to be understated but that these may be offset by ‘losses in other areas, including locations not served by the proposed high-speed line’.