City rail link bid could hit buffers

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Sheffield’s ambitions for a high speed train station in the city centre could be derailed by neighbouring authorities.

While council leaders in Sheffield press for the site of the former Victoria station off the Wicker to be used, their counterparts in Barnsley and Rotherham and Doncaster’s elected mayor are supporting the Government’s preferred option of a location near Meadowhall.

It is suggested that South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive sees Sheffield’s position as a ‘hindrance’, and a briefing note for the local Integrated Transport Authority warns: “Lack of consensus on location will damage Sheffield City region’s credibility nationally.”

At stake is the station for the Sheffield region as part of the proposed high speed link between Birmingham and Leeds, due to be in operation by 2032.

The Government’s Department for Transport supports the Meadowhall option on the basis of saving journey time and money and its regional transport connections. A loop from the main line into the city centre would cost an extra £1bn.

Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham Councils all see betters link to their towns if Meadowhall is finally chosen by the Government. But Sheffield City Council insists the extra costs are a price worth paying in terms of regenerating the city and the region and points to a consultants’ report that concluded out-of-town stations in other European countries have generated little extra business.

The paper to members of the Integrated Tranpsort Authority adds that a city centre station would have as few as one train an hour, instead of three from Meadowhall, due to its position on the main line, and brings a risk that the extra cost of Victoria would ‘weaken the case for HS2 in the city region’. Barnsley council leader Sir Steve Houghton said the issue was subject of a ‘healthy debate’.