Lord Blunkett raises concerns Sheffield could miss out on HS2

Lord Blunkett has raised concerns that Sheffield could miss out on HS2 after the Prime Minister failed to mention the city once when he gave the project the green light.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 4:54 pm

The Labour peer spoke out in the Lords after Boris Johnson approved the controversial £100bn scheme. The PM earlier told the Commons an “integrated master plan” that would produce “the best way to integrate rail services, including Northern Powerhouse Rail between Leeds and Manchester,” and “the most effective design and sequencing.”

Lord Blunkett said: “My Lords, there were six mentions of Manchester and, quite rightly, mentions of both Liverpool and Leeds in the PM’s statement, but not a single mention of Sheffield, the fourth-largest city in England.

“Can the Minister confirm that there will be an eastern leg rather than linking Manchester through Leeds to the north, and that that leg will go through the East Midlands, South Yorkshire and then through Leeds, so that we can have some benefit to a county which has a population greater than that of Scotland?”

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Lord David Blunkett. Picture by Dean Atkins

Baroness Vere of Norbiton, parliamentary under-secretary of state for transport, replied: “I absolutely understand the noble Lord’s desire to get improved connectivity to Sheffield.

“Indeed, we want improved connectivity between all the major cities in the North, which is why we are doing the integrated plan for rail for the North.”

Sheffield Midland station is set to be served on a loop off the high speed line using existing track and a new junction in Rotherham. The main HS2 line will travel through Chesterfield, Rotherham and Doncaster on its way to Leeds.

In his statement to the Commons, Boris Johnson said the government would treat HS2 north of Birmingham, Northern Powerhouse rail and other local rail improvements “as part of one integrated masterplan: high-speed north.”

He added: “I want the plan to identify the most effective design and sequencing of all relevant investments in the north.

“For example, with many in the north crying out for better east-west links instead of improved north-south ones...Both are needed, and both will be built as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.”