Posted 12th March 2014 | 11 Comments

Report suggests HS2 station in central Sheffield

THE argument over whether the HS2 station serving Sheffield should be at Meadowhall – as currently proposed – or close to the city centre on the site of the former Victoria station has been given new impetus by a report from the Volterra consultancy.

Volterra is credited with identifying wider economic impacts that helped strengthen the case for Crossrail in London, and has also suggested that wider economic impacts around Kings Cross/St Pancras and in Kent could mean that HS1 has already generated benefits of over £10 billion – about twice its construction cost.

Now Volterra has indicated that an HS2 station at Sheffield Victoria could provide the Sheffield City Region with a significantly bigger economic boost than the Interchange station currently proposed at Meadowhall, alongside the M1 Motorway and between Sheffield and Rotherham.

In an analysis, undertaken for Sheffield City Council, Volterra says a station at Victoria – which closed to passengers in 1971 – is “the best scenario for the whole city region” and would result in a net benefit of 6,400 new jobs and economic benefits to the South Yorkshire economy of up to £6bn, compared with the Meadowhall scheme.

Volterra also dismisses the time penalty of four minutes for passengers travelling north of Sheffield on HS2 if routed via Victoria, saying work by Parsons Brinckerhoff suggests the extra time has been overstated and, anyway, it would have minimal impact on the overall benefit/cost ratio of the whole HS2 project.

Volterra’s report adds: “Preliminary estimates carried out [for the city council and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive] suggest that the costs of connecting a station at Meadowhall with the rest of the city region will be significantly higher than at Victoria.”

This, it says, is because a station at Victoria would remove the need for an express service between Meadowhall, Sheffield City Centre and the south west of Sheffield “where the key passenger markets reside.”

The Sheffield City Region encompasses Derbyshire Dales (where Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is the MP), Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire, Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Bassetlaw (North Nottinghamshire).

It is also suggested there could be a potential uplift of £530 million in business rate income from business relocation to Sheffield city centre and additional employment. Sheffield is “keen to consider how they may be able to use the uplift generated by the station to assist in part-funding additional costs related to HS2,” according to Volterra.

The cost of the new station at Victoria is put at £340 million, plus £60 million for diversion of the Supertram network to serve it.

Volterra adds: “The objective of HS2 is to connect the Northern Cities in order to encourage economic growth nationally, rather than growth that is just concentrated in London. A station in Victoria will provide the potential for significant economic growth in Sheffield City Centre which would benefit the SCR  [city region] as a whole.”

However, says, a station at Meadowhall “threatens to displace economic activity from the centre of Sheffield.”

In support of the case for locating the new station in central Sheffield, Volterra says demand to all destinations served by HS2 would be higher using a station at Victoria – with “the largest relative increases [in journeys] between cities in the North and Midlands, not just London. Connecting northern cities and narrowing the north-south divide is a key objective of HS2.”

Referring to its specialism in identifying wider economic impacts, Volterra states: “These are exactly the sorts of benefits that are currently missed by existing guidance [by the Department for Transport] and sometimes require the use of judgment by policymakers.

“We believe, supported by the job creation estimates, the potential scope for these sorts of transformational impacts would be significantly higher with a Victoria station than one at Meadowhall.”

Following recent public consultation, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin must determine the final proposed route of HS2 to Leeds and beyond before the end of 2014.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • David Worth, Sheffield

    This comment has not been published (see Guidance Note 6).

  • william tilling, sheffield

    The best, indeed only sensible use of the tiny Victoria site would be as a Woodhead Route Museum. Far too much of our heritage has already been lost. The very idea of the old route being remotely suitable for upgrade to high speed is ludicrous. Meadowhall and on to Leeds is the only option.
    Don't we already have a Supertram link......?

  • Michael Prince, Sheffield

    Victoria would be brilliant. Close to the centre, far easier to get to than Meadowhall ( only car owners like it). Meadowhall is a further 15 minute rail journey for me. Or an expensive car journey. Lots of rail links available. It would rejuvenate that side of the city. They could also get rid of some of those ugly car sale rooms and tatty late night fast food places surrounding the Wicker.

  • Jake, Sheffield

    Meadowhall was built because it was accessable and it has attracted access improvements.

    Meadowhall is easier to get to than the city centre, the city centre is not attractive to the populous hence all the shoppers preferring Meadowhall.

    It seems sensible to put the station where people can easily get to, rather than the Victoria ciy centre which is really only attractive and significant to a vocal minority.

  • James, London

    Four minutes extra here, four minutes there, it all adds up.

    Pity we cannot add an extra four minutes to everybody's day so we can accommodate Sheffield's demands.

  • John Gilbert, Cradley

    All this hoo-hah about - well almost everything concerning HS2, which we must have if we are to cope with capacity problems, and incidentally if we are to be a first class rail power in Europe. Why not simply study the Japanese railways and do what they do - after all they have had high-speed rail for longer than anyone and so have made all the mistakes and rectified them.

  • Fred Rodgers, London

    Sheffield has twice hourly direct services from St Pancras terminating there. The proposed station at the shopping centre is a backward step. Also time taken and physical difficulty if with luggage, children etc of changing trains and levels has been totally ignored, especially for a 10 minute journey on a crowded train/tram. How long would it take all 1100 passengers bound for Sheffield on an HS2 to reach the city centre from the shopping centre?

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    If I recall correctly, the decision to go to Sheffield Meadowhall was entirely down to practicality. The all-round consensus was that a city-centre location was the preferable option, but the problem was routing the line in and out of the city centre. The four-minute time penalty was only a minor issue compared to the construction challenges.

    Having said that, if Sheffield City Council can make a strong enough case, they might be able to persuade the government that the extra expense of a city centre route might be worth it. And there's plenty of other options too: a Sheffield branch from the current Meadowhall route, or sending Classic compatibles in like they're planning for Liverpool.

  • Graham Nalty, Derby

    Bringing HS2 trains to Sheffield Victoria is only slightly better than Meadowhall. For HS2 to reap the greatest benefit to Sheffield and South Yorkshire, the HS2 trains need stop at Sheffield Midland where there will be quick an easy interchange to connecting services. It is a long walk from Midland to Victoria, especially inconvenient with luggage and using a tram to connect between trains would lose any benefit of high speed for those changing trains. Please remember that although rail traffic is growing fast, there is not likely to be any justification for using 400 m trains on HS2, because HS2 will add so much extra capacity to the rail network that trains longer than 200m are not likely to be needed until several decades after HS2 has opened. For Sheffield to fully benefit from HS2 it needs industries where clusters of similar companies make Sheffield the UK's leading centre of excellence in these areas that attract people from all over the UK to Sheffield. It also need HS2 trains calling at its main city centre station for fast local distribution from HS2.

  • Carl Shillito, Watford

    Re-opening Victoria is a tempting prospect but I still believe that Meadowhall offers the best connectivity options for the Sheffield city region as a whole and links to the city centre are good. And while I believe that HS2 will be good for Sheffield and S Yorks the notion that multinational HQs and banks are suddenly going to flock to the city is I think naive - I think instead that growth will come from existing strengths in R&D and innovation, and from overseas investment in the traditional engineering and manufacturing sector - at the quality end. Finally, and I have not seen a plan of the Victoria proposals, the former station viaduct and the Wicker Arch are listed Grade II* and the splendid Royal Victoria Hotel is listed Grade II, so any redevelopment would have to take this heritage into account.

  • Roger Capel, Sheffield

    Other advantages would be the possibilities for cross-platform changes to "conventional" services & its use for diversions. Victoria is accesible to trains from the east by the still open MS&LR main line to Grimsby & Lincoln, from the Midland Main Line to the south via the Midland "Old Road" & the GCR from Beighton & from the north via Woodburn Junction & Rotherham Central. (Admitted, the latter has been singled).

    There's also the little matter of Victoria's decaying platforms 4 & 5 still high & dry on a 30+ foot embankment while (more pertinent given climatic trends) the Midland station & approaches flood. Re-opening for HS2 opens up lots more opportunities besides.