CAMPAIGNERS and independent rail engineers have designed an alternative to the “absolutely terrible” HS2 route through South Yorkshire.
Residents who call themselves the Combined Campaign Group Yorkshire and NE Derbyshire say their scheme — dubbed High Speed North (HS North) — was considerably cheaper than the proposed M18 route.
The group said the project would save £9 billion, replacing the previously-announced HS2 Phase 2b and encompassing Transport for the North’s plans to improving journey times between Sheffield and Manchester.
The new HS North plan hinges on Sheffield’s station being located at the site originally proposed — Victoria, on the edge of the city centre.
The scheme also means large-scale demolition in places like Mexborough would not happen.
Chris Matthewman, from the campaign group, said: “We’ve shown this proposal to a wide range of people from politicians to people in the Department for Transport. No-one has picked this apart and said we’re way off.
“This scheme could easily operate as an alternative to the eastern leg of Phase 2b or as a standalone high speed route which matches up with future plans Transport for the North has set out.
“HS North is not dependent on HS2 and saves the taxpayer a lot of money because the plans include using and improving lines we already have.”
The campaigners and rail engineers have outlined some journey times under the proposed scheme which include connecting Sheffield to London, Birmingham and Manchester in 64, 37 and 23 minutes respectively.
The proposal also relies on the construction of the so-called Penistone Triangle, south of Barnsley. High speed trains would serve Manchester by reopening the Woodhead Tunnel.
At present, HS2 will come into Sheffield on “a spur” at reduced speed, after plans for a new station in Meadowhall were scrapped.
Transport bosses said the M18 route will save almost £1 billion on the Meadowhall plan. But there has been huge anger at the proposed new route through South Yorkshire, which is to pass through Aston, Bramley, Wales and Mexborough.
A presentation seen by South Yorkshire MPs, council leaders, council officers and Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis, shows there would be just two residential demolitions and fewer than 20 commercial properties lost to the campaigners’ proposed scheme.
Mr Matthewman said HS North was a “much quicker way” of connecting cities by vastly improving connectivity.
He added: “We now need those in power to stick their head above the parapet in this region and champion this because the current system is absolutely terrible and benefits no one.”
Rotherham Borough Council leader Cllr Chris Read welcomed the alternative route and urged the Government to “take them seriously before making a monumental error”.
Mr Jarvis declined to comment.