'Just tell us where we stand on HS2' - Sheffield transport chief voices frustration at government hints

A Sheffield transport chief has urged the Government to ‘just tell us where we stand’ after the Secretary of State said the eastern leg of HS2 would be built in full.

By David Walsh
Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 11:05 am

Peter Kennan, chair of the Transport Forum at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, voiced frustration at hints and messaging from Grant Shapps and called on him to announce the contents of the Integrated Rail Plan.

He spoke out after the minister told an online event run by the Policy Exchange that HS2 would be built in full and might be delivered earlier than planned.

The news will be a huge boost for campaigners calling for HS2 to be built through South Yorkshire, with a stop on a loop at Sheffield Midland station.

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Peter Kennan, chair of the transport forum at Sheffield Chamber.

But Mr Kennan was not celebrating.

He said: “The latest hint from the Secretary of State for Transport that the Eastern leg of HS2 will be built in full is welcome.

“However, it is like having to deal with encrypted spoiler alerts. Any sensible hacker would have given up by now, checked in to the nearest bar and will have ordered a double vodka.

“Does it really have to be this way? Just tell us where we stand in Sheffield. Enough of the subliminal messaging. We want you to work with us to deliver transformational investment, levelling up and more better paid jobs for people who deserve them. Just announce now what is in the Integrated Rail Plan.”

The Integrated Rail Plan will set out the Department for Transport's vision for rail across the country. It was expected to be published last year but has suffered months of delays. It is also seen as a key pillar of the levelling-up agenda.

The £106bn HS2 network is due to be built in stages, with the final leg to Leeds completed by 2040.

In December, the National Infrastructure Commission said the government should focus on improving rail links between cities in the North and Midlands. That sparked fears the eastern leg could be scrapped.

But Mr Shapps said completion, originally scheduled for between 2035 and 2040, could be brought forward "quite dramatically" by building it "in a smarter way".

He said the government would provide further information on that "soon".

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.