Leader of Rotherham Council and Mayor of Doncaster call on Government to re-think HS2

Cllr Chris Read and Mayor Ros Jones have met Douglas Oakervee, who is leading the HS2 review.

They have restated their position to go back to the original Meadowhall option or fundamentally reconsider the eastern leg.

The two leaders have been deeply concerned at the recent announcement of rising costs and extended timescales for completing HS2. This is another devastating blow for residents and communities who are set to see more properties demolished than originally claimed.

Rising costs could also mean HS2 will put minimum mitigations and environmental protections in place which would be wholly unacceptable. It could also impact the funding available to deliver vital rail investment programmes such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and essential local upgrades.

Mayor Ros Jones said: “Delivering HS2 must not come at the expense of other vital rail investment in the north or measures to protect communities. That would be a betrayal of our region and the Government’s commitment to rebalance the national economy. We are set to see mass demolitions to have HS2 pass through our region with negligible beneficial impact for our residents, communities and economy. It’s all pain and no gain.

“Passengers and services in our region are suffering now. We can’t wait another 20 years to deliver much needed rail improvements. We need to go back to the Meadowhall option or seriously look at the planned eastern leg.”

Cllr Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council, said: “The current HS2 proposal offers little or no economic benefit to the Rotherham borough and its businesses. We need either a Meadowhall stop or we call on the Government to scrap the development all together rather than build it in a way that will cause years of disruption at massive cost, and instead reallocate the savings to fund essential improvements to regional rail connectivity through the Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

The call comes amid the latest train performance figures, which show that over the last 12 weeks:

  • less than half of trains at Doncaster and Rotherham Stations were on time (45% and 41% respectively); and
  • 8% of services at Doncaster station were at least 10 minutes late and a further 3% were cancelled entirely *

The two leaders argue the current Sheffield spur option for HS2 delivers a second-class solution for South Yorkshire:

  • lower economic benefits and fewer jobs created than for a main line station;
  • fewer trains, fewer seats, longer journey times, added pressure on the existing network and limited capacity for future growth;
  • unacceptable impact on communities and the environment;
  • less accessibility to the wider region; and it’s
  • not the option anyone wanted.

The proposed spur route cannot be properly delivered without the Northern Powerhouse Rail package of investment measures otherwise there are no services to Leeds and the north-east from the terminating HS2 spur at Sheffield. This cost would be on top of the stated HS2 costs.