MEADOWHALL is likely to be chosen as the site for Sheffield’s new high speed rail station despite a campaign for the facility to be built in the city centre, The Star can reveal.
A letter from Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport, Norman Baker, to his boss, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, backs Meadowhall and warns that using the old Victoria Station site off The Wicker would ‘risk leaving Sheffield worse off’.
But a large amount of money would be made available to improve public transport access from across the Sheffield city region if Meadowhall is chosen.
Some businesses and Sheffield Council’s Liberal Democrat group had lobbied in favour of Victoria because a station there would help regenerate the city centre and be more accessible.
But Mr Baker said the main line would have to be built as straight as possible, while a line into Sheffield city centre would require curves which would slow down trains and tunnels costing up to £1 billion to reconnect with the line to Leeds.
Therefore, a city centre station would have to be on a loop rather than the main line, meaning it would have fewer services and could be vulnerable if a future Government wanted to make savings from the project.
Mr Baker’s letter, which comes weeks before a provisional route for the line through Sheffield is set to be revealed, said: “While I understand Sheffield’s instinct for a central stop that would also regenerate this area of the city, I think it represents a gamble and there is a real risk that Sheffield could end up worse off, potentially even without a station at all.
“For this reason, I think the Meadowhall option, with improved public transport links from all parts of Sheffield, represents a safer choice for Sheffield.”
Mr Baker said he had given full consideration to the city centre station idea.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are determined to ensure Sheffield makes the most of this enormous opportunity.”