Speculation HS2 could reach Manchester before Sheffield and South Yorkshire 'is a distraction'
Speculation that HS2 could reach Manchester before Leeds is a distraction, a Sheffield transport expert said.
Reports that legislation for the western leg could be put before Parliament before the eastern leg were dismissed by Peter Kennan, chair of the transport forum at Sheffield Chamber.
It was too early to say how the whole of HS2 would be built, he added.
He was responding to fears the Government was planning to build the route from Birmingham to Manchester first because it was considered less controversial.
The government has given the £100bn plan the green light. But it has called for a review of the Northern section to include east-west links, called Northern Powerhouse Rail.
A plan on timing is due to be published before the end of the year. But the terms of reference, released last week, state the northern sections (called Phase 2b) ‘can be legislated for in two or more hybrid bills, which may run concurrently’.
Mr Kennan said: “It is much too early to say what the final format for building the whole of HS2 will be.
“The Northern leaders are united in their vision and commitment to deliver HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail in full and speculation of what might happen in terms of phasing is just a distraction.
“We need to, and will be, fully contributing to the review process and will then await the outcome of it with keen interest.”
The Transport for the North board meets on March 12 and ‘no doubt’ HS2 will be on the agenda, he added.
The completion date for the two northern legs was pushed back to between 2035 and 2040 last year because of delays to the controversial project.
Meanwhile, Mr Kennan called for support for transport projects in Sheffield City Region.
“It is really important to get behind the Doncaster Sheffield Airport rail station project and to push hard to get one of the 10 new UK Freeports into Sheffield City Region.
“HS2 is not the only show in town when it comes to transport and economic development.”