“REROUTE HS2 or scrap it” — that was the call from the leader of Rotherham Council and the Mayor of Doncaster this week.
Cllr Chris Read and Ros Jones have met Douglas Oakervee, who is leading the HS2 review, to put their case for the M18 route through Aston, Bramley and Mexborough to be ditched in favour of the original Meadowhall option — or the whole scheme to be axed.
Cllr Read 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 two leaders said they had been “deeply concerned” at the recent announcement of rising costs and extended timescales for completing HS2.
Rising costs could also mean HS2 would put minimum mitigations and environmental protections in place, they said, and could hi funding available for other rail investment programmes.
Ms 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.”
Rail performance figures for the past 12 weeks show less than half of trains at Doncaster and Rotherham stations were on time.
The two leaders also argue the current Sheffield spur option for HS2 would deliver a “second-class” solution for South Yorkshire, bringing fewer jobs, longer journey times and extra pressure on the existing network, as well as a huge impact on the environment and disruption for residents.