HS2 and South Yorkshire, part three
HS2 stations somewhere in the East Midlands and Sheffield areas are part of the Y network favoured by Britain’s coalition government. But should the city of Sheffield
(a) get a high speed rail station in the city centre
(b) get a high speed rail station, but not in the city centre (to reduce disruption and construction costs, etc)
(c) not have a high speed station at all?
Apparently — according to Network Rail — the answer is (c). In 2009, Iain Coucher, then chief executive of the company, was reported as saying that, “experience around the world is that you should put at least 100 miles [~160 km] between stations”.
Sheffield is only about 38 miles (61 km) from Leeds, so a Hallamshire station on the proposed Y network would fall well short of the minimum spacing mentioned by Mr Coucher.
According to Neil Chadwick, South Yorkshire PTE’s Acting Director of Strategy, HS2 would free up capacity in the county for other services, and “Importantly for Doncaster in particular, released capacity will help support growth in rail freight”.
However, on the evidence available, rail capacity utilisation in South Yorkshire is quite low overall. The HS2 station in South Yorkshire is unlikely to be of much benefit to people in the east of the county. In convenience terms, a direct journey from Doncaster to Kings Cross or Leeds would suit them much better.
HS2 is about speed, not capacity or connectivity. As Sir David Rowlands (former Non-Executive Chairman of HS2 Ltd) stated in 2009, a “medium-speed network” wouldn’t fulfil what HS2 is “set out to do”.