Government ministers have paved the way for a Yorkshire transport revolution as they confirmed details of the route that the country’s new £32bn high-speed rail network will follow in the county.
The HS2 scheme will see trains running from Birmingham to Leeds on a newly constructed line through the Dearne Valley to the east of Sheffield, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced.
HS2 trains will serve Sheffield via a spur using existing track that will take them into the city centre’s main station and then out again to rejoin the high-speed line.
A new rail junction near the village of Clayton, between Barnsley and Doncaster, could bring Leeds-Sheffield journey times down to 30 minutes.
Previous plans for a station for HS2 services at the Meadowhall shopping centre near Sheffield have been shelved.
Confirmation of the route means a total of 16 homes on the Shimmer housing estate in Mexborough, between Rotherham and Doncaster, are now set to be demolished to create space for HS2.
The decision to ditch the Meadowhall plans was greeted with anger by Labour’s Rotherham MP Sarah Champion, who said: “I am furious that the Government have ignored the people of South Yorkshire over the HS2 route.”
She added: “South Yorkshire will now get all of the disruption of HS2 without the benefit.”
Documents released yesterday by the Government showed that more than 4,000 objections were received during a recent public consultation on replacing the Meadowhall route with the Sheffield spur.
In a statement, the Department for Transport said it would ensure affected residents on the Shimmer estate can “secure a comparable local home”.
The Sheffield spur will also serve Chesterfield, with the decision being hailed as a “game-changer” by the town’s council leader Coun Tricia Gilby.
In another switch from previous plans, the Government said it was now “minded” to build a new rolling stock depot on a former power station site next to junction 45 of the M1 to the east of Leeds instead of near the Wakefield village of Crofton. The Crofton Against HS2 campaign group applauded the move, calling it a “climbdown”.
Confirming details of the route, Mr Grayling said: “Britain’s new railway line will bring huge economic benefits across the country and help ensure this government delivers on its promise to spread wealth beyond London and the South-East.
“But as well as creating skilled jobs, apprenticeships and business opportunities, it will also mean real day-to-day improvements for people across the country. By building a whole new railway line for high-speed intercity connections, we will free up local services, meaning more comfort, more seats and more trains for passengers across the North and the Midlands.
“We will now press ahead with building the line, while continuing to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect.”
Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake welcomed the announcement, saying: “HS2 East offers transformational opportunities for the local, regional and national economy through better connectivity, shorter journey times and improved onward services to Scotland, so is it vital it is delivered in full.”
Main construction work on the first phase of HS2, between London and Birmingham, is due to get under way in the next two years.
However, the Government has warned that the Yorkshire section of the system will not be up and running until 2033.
Ministers yesterday also announced route details for HS2 links from Birmingham to the East Midlands as well as Manchester, Crewe and other parts of the North West.
Contracts worth £6.6bn are awarded
TROUBLED construction giant Carillion is among the firms awarded contracts for building the first phase of the HS2 scheme.
Announced yesterday, the deals are worth £6.6bn in total and will see tunnels, embankments and viaducts constructed between London and Birmingham.
A number of foreign firms were successful in bidding for the work, including Sweden-based Skanska, French company Bouygues Travaux and Austria’s Strabag.
A partnership that includes Carillion has been commissioned for two of the projects. The firm suffered a dramatic collapse in its share price last week after announcing a profit warning which saw almost £600m wiped from its value.
HS2 Ltd yesterday said in a statement that Carillion and its two partner companies had confirmed they would underwrite “the performance of each other in delivering the contract”.