SHEFFIELD is on the brink of losing its battle to persuade the Government to move South Yorkshire’s planned high speed rail station into the city centre as it struggles to win regional allies for its case.
Ministers are expected to reach a decision on station locations and the final route of the proposed High Speed Two (HS2) line through Yorkshire by the end of the year.
But Sheffield’s South Yorkshire neighbours are already making clear they remain vigorously opposed to any move from the existing Meadowhall site despite Sheffield insisting a city centre location would bring greater economic benefits for the whole area.
And in a further blow to its efforts, The Yorkshire Post has been told the West Yorkshire Combined Authority is pressing the Government to push ahead with HS2 in its current form.
It is understood West Yorkshire’s position is based primarily on a desire to progress the project as quickly as possible and the support for Meadowhall among the majority of South Yorkshire councils.
There are fears that switching the South Yorkshire station at this stage would involve significant engineering and technical work that would risk pushing the delivery of HS2 back.
Coun Leigh Bramall, the deputy leader of Sheffield City Council, insisted the city would continue to press its case.
He said: “There is clear evidence to show that a Sheffield city centre location is better for jobs, and better for growth for the city region.
“A Sheffield city centre location is better for connecting the major Northern cities, which as we know will be vitally important for driving economic growth across the whole of the North of England.
“HS2 is one of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects for a generation and it is absolutely vital to get it right.”
Sheffield has been pressing for the station to be moved since the proposed route for phase two of HS2, which will take the line in a Y-shape from Birmingham to Sheffield and Leeds in the east and Manchester in the west, was first unveiled two years ago.
It has produced figures suggesting a city centre location would have an impact on the economy worth £5 billion more than Meadowhall and help create 6,500 extra jobs.
HS2, the company delivering the project, has previously put the additional cost of running the line through Sheffield at £1 billion.
But city leaders believe they have shown the real cost could be far smaller and argue the Meadhowhall case does not include the cost of linked infrastructure schemes that will be needed such as motorway changes.
Tonight, Coun Keith Wakefield, until recently leader of Leeds City Council, distanced the city from the debate insisting it recognised Sheffield’s right to make its case.
“Leeds is not pressing for a Meadowhall location,” he said.