‘Nearly £10bn cheaper, Manchester in 23 minutes and less than 20 demolitions’ – Campaigners bring viable alternative for HS2 in South Yorkshire

Campaigners and independent rail engineers have come up with an alternative to the ‘absolutely terrible’ HS2 route through South Yorkshire.

By George Torr
Friday, 17 May, 2019, 13:49
The alternative to HS2 in South Yorkshire

Residents who call themselves the Combined Campaign Group Yorkshire and NE Derbyshire say the scheme is considerably cheaper than the proposed M18 route.

The group has said the total High Speed North project would save £9bn replacing the much revered HS2 Phase 2b and encompass Transport for the North plans on improving journey times between Sheffield and Manchester.

The current HS2 scheme

The plan hangs on the station in Sheffield operating from the original proposal of Victoria on the edge of the city centre.

The scheme also means large scale demolitions in places like Mexborough would not happen.

Campaigners and rail engineers have outlined some journey times under the proposed scheme which include:

London to Sheffield Victoria in 64 minutes Birmingham to Sheffield Victoria in 37 minutes Sheffield Victoria to Leeds in 19 minutes Sheffield Victoria to Manchester in 23 minutes Sheffield Victoria to Liverpool in 43 minutes London to Doncaster in 74 minutes

HS2 protest in Rotherham

There is also potential to add high speed links to Bradford, Liverpool, Manchester Airport, Doncaster, York and the north east, the group have said.

High speed trains would come into Sheffield from the south along the line which passes Rother Valley, Beighton, Woodhouse and Darnall before arriving at a revamped Victoria Station on The Wicker.

Trains would serve the defunct Woodhead Line passing through Wadsley Bridge.

The proposal also relies on the construction of the so-called ‘Penistone Triangle’ which is located someway south of the Barnsley market town. High speeds trains would serve Manchester by reopening the Woodhead Tunnel to the west and other trains would serve Leeds to the north.

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At present, HS2 will come into Sheffield on a so-called loop from Chesterfield but at a reduced speed.

In 2016, HS2 bosses scrapped plans for a new station in Meadowhall in favour of a ‘spur’ into Sheffield city centre.

Transport bosses say their alternative ‘M18 route’ will save almost £1bn.

But there has been huge anger at the proposed new route through South Yorkshire, which is to pass through places including Barlbrough, Aston, Bramley, Wales and Mexborough.

Campaigners argue there hasn’t been an agreement on funding for the second part of the loop leaving Sheffield to rejoin the HS2 line past Thurnscoe.

They also say unless there is major improvements from Sheffield Midland, Meadowhall, Swinton and Thurnscoe, capacity will be too great.

A presentation seen by the South Yorkshire MPs, council leaders, council officers and Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis, shows there would be just two residential demolitions and less than 20 commercial properties lost to this scheme.

Chris Matthewman from the Combined Campaign Group Yorkshire and NE Derbyshire, said: “We’ve shown this proposal to a wide range of people from politicians to people in the Department for Transport. No one has picked this apart and said we’re way off with this.

“This scheme could easily operate as an alternative to the eastern leg of Phase 2b or as a standalone high speed route which matches up with future plans Transport for the North has set out.

“The HS North scheme is not dependent on HS2 and saves the taxpayer a lot of money because the plans include using and improving lines we already have.

“This is a much quicker way to connect northern cities by vastly improving connectivity.

“We now need those in power to stick their head above the parapet in this region and champion this because the current system is absolutely terrible and benefits no one.”