Opinion: Rail plan is off track

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There has to be serious dout about whether the High Speed Two rail line is going to be a feasible proposition for Sheffield.

Current plans will mean the HS2 route bypassing the city centre and stopping at Meadowhall. That would mean passengers, looking to save one hour from their journey time to and from London, having to get off the fast train and then board a shuttle service taking them back to the city. Even the most generous commentator would question just how much time that would save and would a passenger be bothered with changing trains for the time saving they would eventually get? So now new proposals have been revealed to build an alternative loop into the city centre – at a cost of £1 billion. As part of that route, 40 homes would have to be demolished, a viaduct on a viaduct built over the Wicker and one of the most historic hotels in the city – a listed building – being demolished. The rationale is that while it may cost £1bh to build, it would bring £5bn into the city. Really? We would like to see the sums behind that. All of which must surely make us question whether HS2 will become a reality for Sheffield. The big fear is that the accountants will look at the cost benefit of both proposals and decide to bypass Sheffield altogether. It is a real concern.

Explain this decision

Why has Sheffield Council paid 70 staff more than £700,000 in redundancy settlements and then rehired them? It’s a question which needs answering because this is a substantial sum which should not just be accepted as a fact. We back the call for an investigation because the authority’s decision-making needs to be explained. Why was an individual surplus to requirements at one moment and then brought back into service? It seems peculiar and at a time when cutbacks are being made, the council should be able to explain why this was allowed to happen. Only this way can it ensure the situation is not repeated and reassure us the authority is spending our money wisely.