Campaigners fighting HS2 have urged the Government to ditch the plans and reopen a closed route between Sheffield and Manchester instead.
Pressure group Stop HS2 say public money would be better spent on reopening the old Woodhead railway line between the northern powerhouses, as well as reopening the Skipton to Colne railway line between North Yorkshire and Lancashire.
The group said newly-announced plans for an HS3 rail line connecting major northern cities show HS2 – a high-speed railway linking London with Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield – ‘will do nothing for the North’.
It is intended Sheffield is joined to HS2 as part of an East Midlands leg, while the city would also be connected to the prospective HS3 trans-Pennine route at a cost of billions of pounds.
But Stop HS2 claim reopening the two disused lines could be done at a tenth of the cost of the high-speed rail plans for similar levels of benefit.
Plans for HS3 were unveiled in this month’s One North report on transport improvements and have been backed by Chancellor George Osborne.
Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 campaign manager, said: “This report is an admission HS2 will do nothing for the North and that to develop economic regeneration in the North, you actually have to spend money in the North.
“Instead of spending £5 billion on one new Trans-Pennine route, you could spend about a tenth of that amount and reopen two of them by restoring 27 miles of railway, reopening the Woodhead line and the route between Colne and Skipton.
“Now the option of actually spending money directly in the North is on the table – and getting more benefits from spending less money – I would expect support for HS2 to drain away.”