Benefits of high speed rail could be £4 billion

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MULTI-billion pound benefits of direct high-speed rail from Sheffield and South Yorkshire to London are twice that of a potential rival western route to Manchester, new figures have revealed.

A line travelling from Birmingham to Sheffield, South Yorkshire and Leeds via the East Midlands could boost the regional economy by more than £4 billion, it is claimed.

The Government’s preferred Y-shaped route for the proposed new network is from London to Birmingham, before splitting to travel north along the west and east routes towards Manchester or Sheffield and Leeds.

The Department for Transport has pledged both east and west arms of the line will be built simultaneously, but other sources have suggested such a massive undertaking is unlikely to happen.

The director of the Campaign for High Speed Rail Professor David Begg said that the business case for the eastern arm was extremely strong but warned the north must unite to make sure legislation allowing the first stage the route between London and Birmingham is passed.

Prof Begg said: “The economic case for the east line is twice as good as the west. But we are in a real scrap to make sure that the Bill for the line goes through – it is by no means a done deal. What is really important is that the North sticks together.”