Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore warns HS2 will fail to achieve its aims if it does not connect northern cities
Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore says she is ‘profoundly disappointed’ in recent threats to the High Speed 2 rail and warns it will fail to achieve its aims unless it connects northern cities.
The project aims to speed up travel times with high speed rail connections between major cities but over the past five years the cost has rocketed from just under £56 billion to £106 billion.
Plans aim to link London to Birmingham and Leeds to Manchester and Sheffield would be connected via an arm but there are concerns the city will not get much benefit.
Coun Dore said: "I am very profoundly disappointed in the recent announcements. The whole basis of HS2 was not just about getting to and from London quicker or even with greater capacity, it was about connecting cities. So it was just as important for us to connect with Leeds, Nottingham, the midlands and Derby and Birmingham as much as it is to connect with London.
“Then linking that with Transport for the North and connecting with Manchester and Liverpool so it was about city to city connectivity, not just a high speed railway going through the spine of England - it should be much more than that."
She added if the project does not do more to join other cities together it will fail to improve lives in the north.
“The whole basis of the economic argument was that it needed to create economic growth in all of those places so it’s greater than the sum of the parts and I think they will fail to do that if they just connect from London to Birmingham.
“Transport opens up opportunities for people who live in the north and for the businesses and people to invest in the north. If you’ve got a greater pool of skills to access you’re more likely to invest. If you can get from Nottingham to Sheffield in 20 minutes rather than 50 minutes then businesses look at that as being a wider pool - which is why a lot invest in London and its connectivity."
Despite her feelings towards HS2 she was hopeful that the finally agreed devolution deal for Sheffield City Region would help to improve transport in the region.
She said: “I sit here and talk about HS2 but you know what, 80 percent of Sheffielders aren’t interested - they are interested in buses. We’ve not got enough of them, they don’t arrive on time, sometimes they’re missing, they’re not comfortable or clean, they’re slow, unaffordable and don’t go to the right places. People want authorities and the government to address their real life issues.
“Big announcements about HS2 and massive infrastructure, more roads and railways for the north but people want to know there is a good education for their children, decent job they can look forward too, an affordable cost of living, a decent home and care and support when they need it. That’s what matters to them and I think the opportunity of devolution will help address some of those issues."