HS2; The £80Billion project that is estimated to take until at least 2033 to complete. All for a time saving of 35 minutes between London and Birmingham. Woopy Doopy Do!
You will probably be aware the route through our part of the world has been revised. The new route would enter the borough at Woodall Services and follow the line of the M1. It will affect Wales Bar as the line goes underneath School Road to the west of the M1. A viaduct would take HS2 trains, which travel at up to 225 mph, over the existing railway on the Sheffield to Lincoln Line, over Pigeon Brook Bridge floodplain near developments at Waleswood and over the A57 Aston Bypass before reaching the major M1 motorway exit at Junction 31 at Aston.
Passing through fields and the wind farm at Ulley, the HS2 line would then switch to follow the route of the M18 motorway, with a viaduct over the M1 and Wood Lane, taking it close to Thurcroft. Running immediately to the West of the M18 the HS2 route would be next to houses and commercial property at Bramley before crossing under the road at Junction 1 of the M18. There is a rumour that RMBC might consider not opposing this project if a station was built at Junc.1/M18 in Bramley or Hellaby. Really?
Heading out of the borough, the HS2 route would split from the M18 passing Braithwell and Firsby Resevoir before crossing under the A630 between Hooton Roberts and Conisbrough. A large viaduct would be needed at Denaby Main and over the Dearne floodplain as the route heads North West on to Leeds, joining back to the original proposed route before the M62 at Normanton.
The spur into Sheffield would leave the HS2 line at Chesterfield on the current railway line to Sheffield Midland. This would also create the possibility of “classic compatible” services running through Sheffield Midland to other destinations, including Barnsley, Meadowhall and Rotherham, before rejoining the new HS2 route north of Barnsley, somewhere around the A638. (Don’t you just love planners who use words like ‘somewhere’?)
There would be an impact on a new housing development between Mexborough and Conisbrough, some existing communities and impact on the landscape in parts of the Rother and Dearne valleys. Overall, though, it is expected fewer properties would need to be demolished. Oh,that’s OK then?
“It would, also, save between one and five minutes on journey times further North with the resulting benefits in terms of both meeting passenger demand and upgrading the business case for the project”. Unless there is the ‘wrong type of snow’ on the lines presumably.
The penny has already dropped for some. Lord Mandelson, part of the Labour administration that dreamed up HS2, confessed last month that original estimates of costs were “almost entirely speculative” and warned of the potential for “an expensive mistake”.
Meanwhile, estimates of supposed economic benefits are absurdly slippery. As the National Audit Office has pointed out, they depend to a large degree on what value one ascribes to the gain from transporting business people between London and Birmingham 35 minutes faster. The benefit is marginal, surely, in the age of the internet. As for the price of a ticket on HS2, it’s finger-in-the-air stuff. There is a real worry that the line would end up as an under-utilised resource for the rich. None of which is to deny the need for more rail capacity. But there are plenty of cheaper alternatives that deserve another look.
There are no guarantees that British based companies will be awarded contracts to build any of the rolling stock. Projects like this are so much easier when you can bill taxpayers to build it, then charge them subsidies and running costs until the year dot.
Further reading: https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2013/aug/21/hs2-slippery-line-benefits-costs