Comment - Time to unite or miss the high speed train

The thought of going through it all again is exhausting - but we have no choice.

Monday, 7th December 2020, 9:59 am

It’s time to relaunch the campaign for HS2, or run the risk of seeing the eastern leg scrapped.

We must make all the same economic and capacity arguments and fight for it to be built, in full, all the way to Leeds.

Because what’s the alternative?

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A446 bridge installation, Birmingham. HS2 is under construction between London and Birmingham but could Yorkshire miss out?

Give up and see our taxes spent on a system from which we derive no benefit, while the rest of the country whizzes around at 250mph with investment in stations and space freed up on existing, overcrowded routes?

There are plenty of reasons to disagree with high speed rail, including ballooning cost, environmental harm in the construction phase and disruption and demolition of lives and homes.

But it’s happening.

Today, it’s simply a question of whether we want our region to benefit or not.

The Star Business Editor David Walsh.

Construction is underway from London to Birmingham and the western extension is going through Parliament.

But there is a question mark over Birmingham to Leeds via Sheffield.

It’s feared government will opt to build it in phases, with our section last - and then perhaps pushed so far into the future it’ll never happen.

The project caused a huge row a few years ago after Sheffield lobbied for a change of route and an HS2 stop in the city centre, arguing it made the most economic sense for the region. Plus it saved HS2 Ltd hundreds of millions of pounds. The original plan, for a station at Meadowhall, would have required a colossal bridge that would make Tinsley Viaduct look tiny.

That option is no longer available and that dispute is dead.

To Doncaster Chamber’s immense credit they recognise this and have ditched their opposition to the Sheffield route.

It is a move that recognises reality - and paves the way for the region to launch an unprecedented show of unity, backed by Leeds, the rest of Yorkshire and the North. That would be a coalition this ‘levelling up’ Government could not ignore.

Campaigning all over again might be daunting. But this is one train we can’t miss.