Earlier this week the Sheffield Star launched a campaign to get the South Yorkshire Hub station for HS2 into Sheffield city centre, rather than at Sheffield Meadowhall.
The Star’s campaign has a number of criticisms for Sheffield Meadowhall, including that it will mean fewer jobs than at the site of the former Sheffield Victoria Station site, fewer homes, and its too far – four miles – from the centre of Sheffield. What’s more, they also complain that the Meadowhall location will cause extra expense later, as linking in HS3 would cost millions of pounds.
Meanwhile the Dft’s HS2 Next Steps document says that Sheffield Meadowhall is close to the M1 and existing rail and tram stations as well as being easily accessible for other local towns and that many responses ‘recognised’ some of the possibilities for ‘onward connectivity’.
However some of the backers of the Star’s campaign are using arguments that undermine HS2 itself. One of our objections to HS2 is that it will suck economic activities from the regions to the stations.
The Star quotes a Sheffield businessman as saying “It’s quite simple – if the station is in Meadowhall then all the benefits that HS2 brings will go into Meadowhall.” This view might be all right if Sheffield council were paying for HS2, but HS2 is being paid for by everyone across the country, supposedly for its national benefits.
And that brings us on to the big issue of cost. HS2 Ltd and the DfT are trying to reduce costs everywhere they can, dropping the link to HS1. There is a risk to Sheffield City Council that they may be asked to pay for building a Sheffield Victoria HS2 station, just as the Dft are saying someone else should pay for the Manchester airport station. If the Dft can unload all the costs of the Hub station onto the people of Sheffield, they will be able to absorb some costs overruns elsewhere…