A railway expert said the high-speed HS2 rail link from London to Sheffield should call at a station in the city centre.
Jim Steer, director of pro high-speed rail group Greengauge 21, said locating it there – rather than at Meadowhall – would ‘stimulate’ the city centre.
Speaking ahead of a debate at Sheffield Hallam University, Mr Steer said: “There’s certainly a big issue in Sheffield about where to put the station. In basic terms I have to say the best choice is the city centre. If we have strong cities then we will start to turn the north-south divide around.”
Mr Steer said the link was needed to create extra capacity on the rail network as the population grew, not just cutting journey times.
He added: “If you link Sheffield with many places and Heathrow that will make a difference to whether people choose to set up new business in Sheffield.”
And he compared the disruption of building to when the Sheffield Supertram was built.
“It’s a bit like Supertram in that when it’s being built it seems painful, the streets are being dug up,” he said. “But you get it built, people use it and it’s fantastic.” More than 100 people attended the talk, where Chris Stokes, former executive director for rail development at the Strategic Rail Authority, argued against HS2 as it would mainly benefit the capital.
He said: “I believe cities in the north should be banding together and improving connections as a counterpoint to London. There are better things to spend £50 billion on.”
Lord Berkeley, chairman of the Rail Freight Group, said HS2 would give more capacity for freight and reduce lorries on the road.
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport organised the talk.