Campaigners come together to fight for HS2 in South Yorkshire
A new coalition of HS2 campaigners is emerging in South Yorkshire in response to fears the eastern leg could be scrapped altogether.
Doncaster Chamber has ditched its opposition to the route and thrown its weight behind calls to build it all the way to Leeds.
It comes after it emerged the government could build the railway in phases, delaying its completion by up to 20 years.
Andy Hibbitt, chief operating officer at Doncaster Chamber, said the debate about different routes through South Yorkshire had ‘largely been and gone’.
He added: “Doncaster Chamber supports HS2 coming to the Sheffield City Region and the North of England.
“Whilst we believe that previous iterations of the route through South Yorkshire might have provided better connectivity for the region, we believe that the debate about routes and station locations has largely been and gone and therefore think it is incumbent on regional partners to get behind the current proposal to make HS2 a reality for our region.”
The Chamber had supported a previous proposed route through Rotherham, with a station at Meadowhall.
But after a controversial campaign by organisations in Sheffield, it was changed to include a stop in the city centre on a loop off the mainline which would be moved east to run through Doncaster.
Matt Jackson, president of Sheffield Chamber, said: “The government cannot honestly say to the North that it is committed to ‘levelling up’ unless all of HS2 is built as quickly as possible. Even with increased costs, for every £1 invested it will generate £2.
“Politicians seem to be forgetting that greatly improved connectivity between Sheffield and Leeds is as important, if not more important than between Sheffield and London and it cannot be delivered without HS2.”
The ‘phased completion’ plan is understood to form part of the National Infrastructure Commission’s review into HS2 and will inform the Government’s imminent Integrated Rail Plan.
It could mean construction in Yorkshire would not begin until 2040, prompting concerns it may never happen.