Sheffield Council’s campaign for a city centre high speed rail station has caused a row with neighbouring authorities and transport chiefs.
The Department for Transport wants to locate the station on a viaduct at Meadowhall, saying the option would be on the main line and £1 billion cheaper than an alternative idea of running a ‘loop’ line to Sheffield’s old Victoria Station site.
But Sheffield Council has produced several reports arguing that the Victoria option for HS2 would have a much stronger economic impact and that out-of-town stations in other European countries have created little extra trade.
A confidential briefing note from a meeting between South Yorkshire’s councils seen by The Star revealed that South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive sees Sheffield Council’s position as a ‘hindrance’.
Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham Councils all prefer Meadowhall, because it has a direct rail link to their towns.
The leaked paper warns: “Lack of consensus on location will damage Sheffield City region’s credibility nationally.”
It adds that a city centre station would have as little as one train an hour, instead of three from Meadowhall, due to its position on the main line, and a risk that the extra cost of Victoria would ‘weaken the case for HS2 in the city region’.
Council leaders at Barnsley and Rotherham, and Doncaster’s Elected Mayor Ros Jones, were also unhappy about Sheffield going it alone to commission reports in favour of Victoria ‘without wider input’.
Coun Sir Steve Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said the issue was the subject of a ‘healthy debate’ between leaders of councils in the city region – and not a war of words.
But a leaders’ meeting on Tuesday night involving Coun Houghton, Rotherham’s Roger Stone, Sheffield Council leader Coun Julie Dore and Ms Jones failed to resolve the issue.
Karl Battersby, Rotherham’s director of development, said: “We understand Sheffield’s position, however, the benefits of Victoria need to be balanced against greater cost, delay in delivery and increased journey time.”
Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “We would like to see a resolution on the preferred location as soon as possible.”
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council member for business, said: “We think Victoria could create 10,000 jobs compared with 4,000 at Meadowhall, benefiting the whole city region.”