Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has drawn up battle lines with his former coalition partners by speaking out in support of a HS2 station in Sheffield city centre.
The Sheffield Hallam MP has written to the Transport Secretary saying government plans to base the hub at Meadowhall will be less beneficial to the economy.
He said a HS2 station at Sheffield Victoria – which The Star is supporting with its HS2 or Bust campaign – will bring 6,000 more jobs and 1,000 more new homes compared to Meadowhall.
Mr Clegg said: “The bulk of additional economic impact from HS2 comes from the regeneration effect around the stations.
“HS2 Ltd’s own work demonstrates that a central station delivers over 6,000 more jobs and 1,000 plus new homes compared to an out-of-town parkway.
“It has shown that the station at Victoria would be less expensive and cause less residential demolitions than at Meadowhall.
“Sheffield Victoria can deliver far greater economic impact at a lower cost to the exchequer.”
The Transport Secretary, Conservative Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin, has previously said it ‘may not be possible’ to link the proposed city centre HS2 hub at Sheffield Victoria to the existing Midland station.
But Mr Clegg disagreed, saying new consultations from Network Rail showed it is possible to link up the two stations by heavy rail, cutting the 10 minute walk.
Mr Clegg, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, added a station at Meadowhall would ‘contradict’ Chancellor George Osborne’s vision of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ because the aim to reduce journey times between Sheffield city centre and Manchester and Leeds city centres would not be achieved.
A raft of business leaders are also behind The Star’s campaign to bring HS2 to the city centre. Some 27 directors and senior executives - representing 2,000 businesses, from white collar employers to football clubs - say they fear the benefits of northern economic growth could be lost in Yorkshire and further afield if the high speed train stop is not in the centre.
The Department for Transport estimates journeys from Sheffield to London will be 46 minutes quicker, at 1hr 19mins.