HS2 is the route for opportunity

On Monday 17 July, the government announced the HS2 route. Our MD, Alexis, explores what this means now for South Yorkshire.

The government has now confirmed its solution for bringing HS2 to our region. A lot of ink and some political blood has been spilt getting to this point. The arguments for and against various options have been rehearsed time and again. Hopefully, we can now draw a line in the sand.

Communities near the new route need our politicians to come together to minimise the impact HS2 will have on their homes and businesses. They need a process that is clear and transparent. They need certainty and financial compensation. Business and political leaders need to agree how the arrival of high-speed rail can supercharge economic growth.

The hard work starts now. Compelling ideas are around every corner. We have a window of opportunity to come together to demand more action from government to give us the infrastructure our region needs to excel.

Here is what I think we need next. A commitment to fund a high-speed rail hub in Sheffield City Centre that connects HS2 with high-speed rail to Manchester and beyond. Final confirmation we will get a second HS2 station that is located even closer to Rotherham and Barnsley. A clear signal from Ministers they will support Doncaster Sheffield Airport’s bid to get a rail link directly off the East Coast Mainline. This rail link would bring our airport within less than 80 minutes’ travel time of London. Cargo and passenger numbers will go through the roof as airlines launch flights to new destinations. The benefits for global trade and travel from our region would be huge.

Closer-to-home travel also needs attention. The arrival of HS2 needs to be a catalyst for far better rail links, from Barnsley to Chesterfield and from Doncaster to Dore. With better connectivity will come more businesses. More businesses will bring more jobs and more investment.

A world-class rail network, including an airport with a direct connection to the capital, would put our region on a different footing. We would rival regions around the world. We would be able to compete for investment and events we can currently only dream of. Want an example? Silverstone have said from 2019 the F1 Grand Prix will need a new home. Is this too fanciful? Perhaps; but the government’s announcement means we are building up a head of steam. Let’s grab the opportunity.