Prime Minister raises hopes of HS2 through South Yorkshire
The Prime Minister has raised hopes HS2 will be built through Sheffield stating ‘we’re getting on with’ both the eastern leg and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Boris Johnson was urged to start construction of the high speed rail route in Yorkshire at PMQs in the Commons.
He responded: “We're getting on with both the eastern leg of HS2 and with Northern Powerhouse Rail, and what I've asked the National Infrastructure Commission and Network Rail to look at is how those two projects can best be integrated to boost the economy of the whole of the of the North of the country.”
His comment came after it emerged the railway could be built in phases. Campaigners fear that could mean construction of the Yorkshire section would not begin until 2040, prompting concerns it may never happen at all.
Meanwhile, the Department for Transport also appeared to commit to Northern Powerhouse Rail - east-west connections across the North.
A spokesman said: “NPR is a key part of the Government’s agenda to level-up the North and, once built, it will transform connectivity across the region and provide faster more frequent services for passengers.
“Our upcoming Integrated Rail Plan will also outline how projects, including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, can work together to deliver the reliable train services that passengers need and deserve, as quickly as possible.”
Sheffield MP Clive Betts said despite the comments it was important to keep the pressure on.
He added: “I think it will be difficult to stop one of the legs. It will compromise the cost-benefit of the whole scheme. I’m told it’s a genuine review but we out to keep the pressure on.”
Peter Kennan, chair of the transport forum at Sheffield Chamber, said he was concerned the enormous cost of the pandemic would lead government to ‘truncate’ HS2.
He added: “I can’t help but think they will look for some economies. Therefore we are fighting our corner through Transport for the North and Sheffield City Region.”
A decision was due in February, he added. But a ‘no’ wasn’t the end of the road.
He added: “All the new Tory ‘Red Wall’ MPs will be lobbying like mad for the eastern leg to stop their support from crumbling.”