Letter: High Speed 2 progress

This letter sent to the Star was written by Shaffaq Mohammed, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Ecclesall

Monday, 26th July 2021, 6:51 am
Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed at railway station

The government’s Transport Committee reviews the progress of High Speed 2 every six months.

Recently MPs from the Transport and Public Accounts committees went to Birmingham to hear about the impact of HS2 on the area from local representatives.

Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands had lots to say. He argued that the eastern leg of HS2 from Birmingham to Leeds does not need to be built in its entirety and the money would be better spent on improving connectivity within his region.

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Whatever your views on elected regional mayors we probably agree, he’s doing what he was elected for as a regional mayor, he’s fighting for the communities he represents.

We hear similar arguments over the rail network here.

We need better connectivity east-west and north-south.

We need the Midlands Mainline to be electrified.

And more local stations to reduce people’s reliance on cars.

Whatever your views are on HS2 Andy Street is fighting for what he believes is right for his region.

According to Mark Thurston, the chief executive of HS2 Ltd, the Department for Transport to focus on the western leg of HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester while no work was being done on planning the eastern leg which would include us.

The government promised to publish future railway upgrades across England, its Integrated Rail Plan by February this year. It has yet to appear.

We need someone fighting for us to be properly upgraded.

The Transport Committee has yet to get as far north as Sheffield and there’s a danger that decisions will be made before business and political leaders here have a chance to press for improvements to our rail connectivity in and around South Yorkshire.

It’s time South Yorkshire mayor, Dan Jarvis got more proactive and on the front foot when it comes to HS2.

Why is he not inviting officials to South Yorkshire to see for themselves the potential economic benefits HS2 and better connectivity would bring to our region?

As it is we have a leadership that only reacts when the key decisions have been taken and Sheffield and South Yorkshire are left trailing behind other major cities and regions.

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on public spending and it’s no secret that the government is considering ways to reduce spending on rail links.

Lets face it, we have been left on a limb rail infrastructure-wise for a long time.

The government could make substantial savings by leaving us there, in the backwaters and we will have to make do with 20th century solutions in a 21st century world.