HS2 and South Yorkshire, part two
Devolution of local rail franchising was one of the first topics discussed at the 3 January 2013 meeting of South Yorkshire’s Integrated Transport Authority. South Yorkshire is one of several English provincial transport authorities that have expressed an interest in taking control of running passenger trains, but it is not clear exactly how the concept could be successfully implemented. Use of railways for local journeys is extremely low in the Sheffield area, but it is unlikely that the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) has the savoir faire or savoir commercialiser to bring about improvements.
The meeting provided further evidence that HS2 is pretty much a localism-free scheme. Although South Yorkshire’s Authority and Executive are interested in local control of passenger rail, they do not seem — apart from councillor Richard Russell — much bothered about where a high speed rail station should be built in the county. In response to questioning from Mr Russell, PTE chief executive David Brown told councillors that the decision on the siting of a HS2 station was not in their hands.
The shape of the county’s future local transport planning, depends on where HS2 Ltd tells South Yorkshire ITA where ‘their’ station will be. Neil Chadwick, PTE Acting Director of Strategy, seemed to have no opinion on the siting issue, but claimed that there would be important economic development and released-capacity benefits from a high speed station (without explaining what form the benefits would take).