Proposal to build HS2 in ‘phases’ prompts fears that it may not reach Sheffield
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Leaders in the North of England and the Midlands are "fighting with the government behind the scenes" over plans for a “phased delivery” of the 120-mile eastern leg of the project between Birmingham and Leeds, according to The Sunday Times.
This is expected to be one of the recommendations in an upcoming report by Sir John Armitt, who has been reviewing the plans for the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).
According to the report in the Times, one option would be to build the HS2 line from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway as a “first phase” with the rest of the line through Chesterfield and Sheffield to Leeds to be built at a later date.
But the proposed plans could mean construction on the Yorkshire section would not begin until 2040, prompting serious concerns that it may never happen at all.
Councillor Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “It is vital that HS2 is delivered in its entirety as planned, and it would be hugely damaging to the north of England if the line to Sheffield and Leeds wasn’t built.
“Sheffield has consistently supported the HS2 project because of the economic benefits it can bring the city and to the UK as a whole. We have long argued that it is essential that HS2 is part of an integrated rail strategy for the north of England that includes radically improved links to Leeds and Manchester, not just London, and that this is matched with a comprehensive transport strategy at a local level.
“The economic benefits of high speed rail come not just from faster journey times but also the regeneration that it enables, and the access to jobs and opportunities for people across Sheffield. HS2 is a once in a generation investment and it’s essential that Government commits to investment in the north.”
Dan Jarvis, mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said that “watering down or cancelling the project would be unforgivable”.
“It’s time for the government to stop the dither and delay, put its money where its mouth is and deliver on its promises,” he told The Times.