New rail station ‘should be in city centre’

hs2ram'Artist's impression of high speed rail train
hs2ram'Artist's impression of high speed rail train

Sheffield is to continue pressing for the station for high speed trains to be in the city centre, despite the Government indicating that Meadowhall is a better location.

The council will use a consultation programme starting soon to argue that the economic benefits outweigh the extra cost and longer journey times.

“We want the best solution for the Sheffield City Region,” said Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, skills and development. “We’ll work with the Government to put forward the case, and if we are not successful, we’ll work hard to make sure Meadowhall works as well as possible.”

Plans for the second phase of the HS2 high-speed rail network envisage a station next to the shopping centre and the M1. Journey times would be 38 minutes to Birmingham and 69 minutes to London.

Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg has said that a more expensive and slower route “slightly defeats the purpose of the whole exercise”, and would cut through more housing, woodland and the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Catcliffe.

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts has also accepted the case for Meadowhall, which is well placed for the regional transport network.

Yet one of the strands of the council’s city centre masterplan, unveiled last week in the context of the city centre being a key “driver” of the regional economy, is for a station on the site of the former Victoria station, off the Wicker, on the basis that this would generate a much greater economic stimulus.

The existing station has been ruled out as not having the capacity and being too awkward to link to the HS2 network.

Using details compiled by consultants, the authority is preparing to submit evidence to the Government’s Department of Transport that a station in another part of the city centre could create up to 10,000 jobs as opposed to between 3,000 and 4,000 at Meadowhall. One of the main purported reasons is the capacity for new offices near the Wicker.

“Even the Government’s own figures indicate there would be a greater economic uplift and more jobs, but they say it wouldn’t be worth the extra cost,” said Coun Bramall. “We think it is a price worth paying for the right solution for Sheffield.”

It is estimated that a high speed loop into and out of Sheffield would increase the bill by about £1bn and increase the journey time by six or seven minutes.

The line from Birmingham to Sheffield and Leeds is due to open in 2033.