High Speed 2 (HS2) has confirmed it plans to build a new station in Sheffield city centre rather than the Meadowhall shopping centre
HS2 officially announced the move today, after unconfirmed reports on the development circulated last week.
David Higgins, chair of HS2 Ltd, claimed the new proposals would save more than £1 billion and result in journey times to London being reduced from over 2 hours to just 79 minutes.
Sources close to HS2 previously told the AJ that the plans to build an elevated station next to Meadowhall, nearly four miles from the city centre, had been an engineering-led ‘nonsense’.
Sheffield City Council has been campaigning to move the station to the city centre since 2013. Last year it emerged that it had spent £190,000 lobbying for the change.
Council leader Julie Dore told the BBC: ‘We are delighted the government has concluded that a city centre station location is the best option.
’We have been making this case for years because analysis shows it will create thousands more jobs than the Meadowhall option.’
The new route will run east towards the M18 before rejoining the original route south of the M62. High-speed trains will continue to use existing tracks to access Sheffield, stopping at the city’s Midland station.
It would see up to two trains per hour leave the HS2 line near to Clay Cross, in Derbyshire, and join the current line into Sheffield before rejoining HS2 east of Grimethorpe.
However, it is understood the move will affect a housing development between Mexborough and Conisbrough.
Higgins told the BBC: ’It’s important that we give them certainty as soon as possible. If we can lift the blight from those communities then the quicker the better.
’It’s always the same with any change; some people who were impacted are no longer impacted while those previously not affected will be.’
Higgins added that he expected the secretary of state would make a decision on the final route by the end of the year.
The switch comes just days after a National Audit Office report warned that the multibillion pound rail project could be delayed by up to a year. It said that the scheme had an ’unrealistic timetable’ and was under financial strain.