HS2 should serve Sheffield
The HS2 station serving South Yorkshire should be located in Sheffield city centre – on the site of the disused Victoria station – and not at the Meadowhall interchange as currently planned, according to research produced by Volterra, and commissioned by Sheffield City Council.
“A station at the city centre will deliver far more benefit to Sheffield City Region than an out of the way town parkway location at Meadowhall,” the City Council declares.”It would be inconceivable that the Government would propose a parkway station for Manchester.”
Volterra says the existing HS2 plan ‘minimises delivery costs but fails to maximise outcomes’: Victoria was considered at one stage but discarded in favour of the lower cost Meadowhall option.
Volterra estimates that the additional cost of replacing Meadowhall with Victoria would be £0.9bn, but argues (citing HS2 figures) that the benefits would be proportionally much greater and could generate £190m in extra revenues and produce additional benefits of £480m. It could also result in much wider regional benefits – 6,400 net jobs and add £6bn to the South Yorkshire economy.
Passenger demand is expected to be three times higher to London – and from anywhere between 44% and 217% higher to other cities – from Victoria than it would be from Meadowhall (despite an additional four minute penalty for northbound journey times).
Volterra maintains that the HS2 assessment failed to include Wider Economic Impacts (WEIs), which when factored in, present the Victoria option in a more favourable light. However, even without WEIs, the overall impact on the national BCR (Benefit Cost Ratio) would be very small, reducing it by a meagre 0.03 points from 2.25 to 2.22.
“The estimated business rate revenue around Victoria would be £286m without HS2, or £847m with HS2, compared to £155m without HS2 or£187m with HS2 at Meadowhall,” the report says quoting CBRE analysis. “If cities can keep part of their business rate uplifts it could assist in part-funding the additional costs related to HS2 (by borrowing against projected increases).”
The new Victoria station would be served by other trains, and additional platforms could be built where the line intersects with other routes to improve connectivity. Sheffield City Council stresses the importance of city centre locations, citing positive urban regeneration studies of high speed lines in France and Spain, and contrasting these to the relatively poor performance of (high speed) stations located outside main urban areas.
Volterra Partners: High Speed 2 – Station Location Analysis
Sheffield: High Speed Rail – Investing in Britain’s Future; Response from Sheffield City Council