1. ITV Report

New South Yorkshire HS2 proposals met with 'shock' in Doncaster

The company behind the high speed rail project has confirmed it intends to change the route through South Yorkshire.

HS2 Limited is proposing to run the main HS2 line further east than originally planned, avoiding both Sheffield and Meadowhall stations. The city would be served by up to two trains per hour running on existing lines connected to the main HS2 route, in what is described as a 'classic compatible service'.

There would be an additional option of a station stop at Chesterfield.

The new HS2 proposal Credit: High Speed 2 Ltd

The report describes the new proposal as an 'imaginative' solution, that tries to balance criticism of the original plans and concerns about the cost of the project.

"(The new proposal) would remove the need for a HS2 station at Meadowhall and in turn also allow us to exploit the possibility this opens up to take the main HS2 line through the comparatively less populated, and geologically easier, eastern part of South Yorkshire – a route which runs as far as possible parallel to the M18."

– HS2 Ltd

Why has HS2 Ltd rejected plans for a station at Meadowhall?

The report argues that aspirations to reduce journey time between Sheffield and Leeds city centres would not be achieved by a station at Meadowhall.

It adds that 'the presence of the shopping centre and associated businesses means that there is also a substantial price to pay in terms of demolition of properties and the subsequent compensation.

What are the main factors behind the decision-making process?

As well as cost, HS2 Ltd says there are four key factors to be considered in the decision-making process:

  • The benefit of HS2 for Sheffield and the wider South Yorkshire region has to be measured against and judged in the light of the impact on therest of the route. Whilst there is clearly a need for a station stop in South Yorkshire, it also has to be seen in the context of the rest of HS2. Four times more passengerswill travel on to Leeds, York and Newcastle than stop in SouthYorkshire
  • The particular needs of Sheffield and the wider region - which location achieves the best balance of the varying demands of the Sheffield city centre area and those of the rest of the region including Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster, without adversely impacting the service to other areas.
  • Connectivity with the existing rail and wider transport network.
  • 'Northern Powerhouse' aspirations to Sheffield to Leeds
  • Topography, urban and industrial density, as well as environmental impacts.

HS2 Ltd argues that this would be 'a more cost effective approach', promising an additional saving of between one and five minutes for Leeds, and the cities further North.

The move has been welcomed by business leaders in Sheffield, who had feared that a station at Meadowhall would have a negative impact on the city.

"We are delighted with this. Of course the work does not stop here. We will campaign equally as hard to get the right number of services through the station and the right connectivity from the station to the rest of the region. Equally we need to work hard with East Midlands trains to improve our existing services to London, Leeds and Manchester. HS2 is a long way away despite the decisions being made now and the economy needs to grow well before that."

– Richard Wright, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce

But the proposals have been met with 'shock' from those affected by the new easterly route.

Authorities in Doncaster fear the new proposal would come at the expense of people in the town.

“I understand the financial challenges facing the project, but saving money must not be achieved at the expense of people living in Doncaster, South Yorkshire and the wider Sheffield City Region.

I have spoken to local Councillors and we will be doing everything we can to support people whose homes may be affected and those communities that will be impacted if these new plans go ahead.

We need to go through the proposals in detail and analyse their impact but our position is very clear. I cannot support any proposal which reduces job creation and economic growth forecasts unless alternative growth mechanisms are in place and I will certainly not back any proposal where people in communities like Mexborough and Denaby take a hit on jobs, housing or quality of life without significant benefits in return.

– Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones

The National Trust has also raised 'serious concerns' for Nostell, near Wakefield, and its surrounding communities.

“We are seriously concerned about the proximity of the line to Nostell which introduces an alien feature into the landscape, in particular, bringing noise and negative visual impacts for visitors to Nostell from lighting, railway infrastructure and passing trains.

The construction of the railway and the New Crofton Rolling Stock Depot also gives us cause for concern. Nostell is a community resource and the proposals announced today don’t just affect us, but people living locally, for whom the full impacts are still to be determined, but cannot be understated.

HS2 Ltd now need to rapidly and thoroughly assess, and then fully mitigate the impacts of the route on Nostell and its environs. With our specialist team, we will challenge HS2 Ltd to do this sensitively and completely, and reserve our right to oppose the alignment of the route should we judge the mitigation proposed to be insufficient.”

– Jenny Layfield, general manager at Nostell