COMMENT: Five billion reasons to put HS2 in Sheffield city centre

An artist's impression of an HS2 station at Victoria in Sheffield city centre, by HLM Architects
An artist's impression of an HS2 station at Victoria in Sheffield city centre, by HLM Architects
Have your say

Years from now, it could all be a distant memory.

Battling through the Snake Pass to get to Manchester, or taking a snail’s pace Pacer train between the north’s major cities, if plans on the table do become a reality.

The Star can reveal that £300million for rail and road improvements in the north is expected to be announced by Chancellor George Osborne today - head over to page three for all the facts.

That is £300 million that can be put towards plans for high-speed trans-Pennine rail services, dubbed ‘HS3’, as well as a tunnel road from South Yorkshire to Manchester.

Too often we hear about cuts and concessions, so it’s heartening to learn that a significant cash pot could be on its way that can be used to get some absolutely crucial infrastructure problems sorted for our region and beyond.

Imagine a future northern landscape in which commuters have the option of driving through a Pennine tunnel to Manchester, or hopping on a high-speed train to Leeds or Manchester from Sheffield city centre, as well as another high-speed link to London.

If HS2, HS3 and the trans-Pennine tunnel do all come off, that will be the reality - Sheffield at the heart of a super-fast interconnected transport infrastructure that will herald the dawn of true, easy connectivity, sparking growth, jobs, house building - you name it.

Of course, all of those benefits will only be truly felt if the high speed links connect to the city centre.

It cannot be overstated how crucial it is for Sheffield and the wider Sheffield City Region that HS2’s station is in the city centre.

Just last month, scores of top business brains including Sheffield Chamber of Commerce chairman Richard Wright, Sky Betting & Gaming CEO Richard Flint and Hospitality Sheffield chairman Ian Slater all signed an open letter to the Chancellor outlining why HS2 must be in the city centre.

It means 6,500 more jobs. 1,000 more homes and £5billion extra in growth, for starters.

Sheffield will see a huge benefit if HS2, HS3 and the tunnel all get built - and today, the £300million being pumped into the north will certainly help.

But it’s a vision which will be ultimately compromised if the city centre isn’t the centre of the plans.

That’s why we must all keep putting the pressure on George Osborne and co to make the right decision for the city’s future.