Today (7th July), HS2 Ltd have announced that following a drive to cut costs from the project, they will drop plans to build a new HS2 station at Meadowhall in Sheffield, instead deciding to run trains via the existing track through Chesterfield into the existing Sheffield Midland Station, then out via Rotherham to rejoin the HS2 tracks.
The original proposal for Meadowhall had proved controversial due to unsuitable ground conditions and had been opposed by the city council, who had lobbied for a new station to be built on the site of the former Victoria Station. The new proposal will save money by eliminating the need to build a new station, but will surely result in a reduced HS2 service pattern for Sheffield.
This latest cut to the project comes following the decision from the Department for Transport not to pursue links to Heathrow Airport and the Channel Tunnel via HS1. Last week, the National Audit Office confirmed that going into the existing Sheffield station could save £768m, but that HS2 Ltd were looking for a total of £9bn savings on Phase 2 alone. This requirement to make substantial further savings must surely put other parts of the route at risk, and last month it was reported that Sir Jeremy Heywood is considering further cuts, such as the removal of the Crewe-Manchester link, and the link to Euston Station.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“The decision of HS2 Ltd not to build a new station in Sheffield is an admission that the original route could not be delivered due to unstable ground conditions, and that they desperately need to cut their ever spiralling costs. Anyone in Sheffield celebrating this as a victory may want to take stock of the fact that this change will surely mean a reduction in the proposed HS2 service pattern, and there will be knock-on effects on existing train services.”
“Following the scrapping of links to Heathrow and HS1, this cut to the HS2 project is another in a long line of cuts, and it is certain there will be more cuts to come, with the links to Euston and Manchester reportedly under threat. Last week the National Audit Office reported that HS2 Ltd are looking for £9bn worth of cuts, but this announcement saves less than £1bn. With such wholesale descoping on the cards, it is well past time to ask what is the point of HS2.”
“The irony is this route change it is a vindication of all those who said any new high speed link should go into existing stations, and an effective admission that the HSUK proposal which does just that is a better concept.”
“The original proposal was never thought through properly, and with the new route going through a housing estate under construction, it’s clear this one hasn’t been either. HS2 has been a disaster from start to finish, and we can only hope the new Prime Minister will urgently review the project when they take office.”