'Our position has not changed' - South Yorkshire council leaders' reservations on HS2 remain
South Yorkshire council leaders have welcomed a new railway masterplan for the county drawn up in part by metro mayor Dan Jarvis - but they still have reservations about HS2.
The Sheffield City Region Integrated Rail Plan includes an ambition to extend tram-train services across South Yorkshire, to create a railway station at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, a HS2 stop at Goldthorpe and make improvements to existing stations.
Doncaster mayor Ros Jones, Rotherham Council leader Chris Read and Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton welcomed the plans at a meeting of the mayoral combined authority board – but they all said they would carry on lobbying the Government for their preferred route.
Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore was not present.
The original HS2 station was meant to be at Meadowhall but Sheffield persuaded the Government to approve a city centre station at Midland.
All other South Yorkshire councils preferred a stop near the shopping mall.
The wider rail plan has approval from the Department for Transport, Northern Powerhouse Rail and Transport for the North.
Mr Read said: “From Rotherham’s point of view, being able to line up some significant interventions around rail transport is really important and knowing it’s made some headway with Government is critical.
“Making the tram-train permanent through the middle of Rotherham and how we secure services through Swinton and the rest of South Yorkshire, a station at Waverley is a real game changer for the borough.
“However, our position on High Speed 2 hasn’t changed - it is bad news for the borough of Rotherham with significant impact during the development and construction phase and we will continue to argue that case.”
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Doncaster mayor Ros Jones added: “I welcome the news of a station at Doncaster Sheffield Airport along with the investment at local community stations and the potential of new stops and stations at places like Askern.
“I also welcome the new Dearne Valley station but not at any cost. We need to ensure the correct Hickleton/Marr bypass is a precursor for it.
“As far as HS2 is concerned, Doncaster has not changed its position and will continue to lobby Government because it is devastating for the areas of south Doncaster looking at Mexborough in particular.
“We believe it is the wrong route but we do accept Government has chosen that and we will keep lobbying them to get the best deal possible for the people of Mexborough.
“But we do accept we’ve got to being forward a plan that enhances the whole of our borough and this comes some way to doing that.”
Sir Steve Houghton said: “I welcome the station in the Dearne at Goldthorpe but in order to make that work effectively, it needs the Hickleton/Marr bypass and for a Barnsley perspective and in some way Rotherham, to duel the Dearne towns link road which is partly single carriageway.
“Any improvements to Barnsley station is welcome but we want to increase the opportunities we’ve got by extension to the platforms so it can take larger trains.
“We’ve said all along we need a Parkway station on the main route. There’s only Totem in the East Midlands before Leeds and there is nothing in between the two.
“While the loop is helpful, the main route bypasses the whole of South Yorkshire and Barnsley will continue to lobby for a Parkway station as well as our colleagues in the Leeds City Region.
“I just hope the Government doesn’t think this is an end to the matter from our perspective.”