Labour has accused ministers of further dithering and delays after the Government postponed a final decision on a possible HS2 spur to Sheffield.
On Tuesday (15 November), transport secretary Chris Grayling announced details of Phase 2b of the high speed rail line but said ministers would consult on a proposed connection to Sheffield before a final decision next year.
Labour's Ed Miliband
Andy McDonald, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said: ‘This is just another example of Government dithering and delaying on a key infrastructure decision. The benefits HS2 can bring to the country are significant but the Government must urgently get a grip in order to keep the project on track.
‘We finally know most of the proposed route of HS2. But there’s no excuse for dodging the decision over where to site a new station in or around Sheffield.’
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband's constituency includes Mexborough, where new homes could be demolished to make way for a more eastern route through South Yorkshire.
He wrote on his Facebook page that the proposal ‘flies in the face of evidence, logic, value for money and the needs and interests of local people’.
Doncaster’s deputy mayor, Cllr Glyn Jones, also criticised the proposal.
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) welcomed the announcement but urged ministers to ‘move forward’ with the project.
CECA’s head of external affairs, Marie-Claude Hemming, said: ‘The Department for Transport has said that the £55bn scheme will be fully operational by 2033, but there are still a number of consultations and decisions to be made about the project if this timetable is to be met. We call on the Government to do everything it can to expedite this process.’
Council leaders in the Midlands and the North also welcomed the Government’s announcement.
Cllr Bob Sleigh, chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), said: ‘HS2 puts the West Midlands in a unique position, ensuring quicker journeys to the UK’s biggest cities and freeing up capacity on the existing rail infrastructure, without which services will suffer.'
Nottingham City Council leader Cllr Jon Collins said: ‘Along with other councils in the region, we have been strong supporters of proposals for the eastern leg of HS2 with a station at Toton, so we’re pleased about the Government’s announcement today. It provides some certainty and allows us to move forward positively with plans which will maximise HS2’s benefits for Nottingham and the wider region.’
Cllr Keith Wakefield, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: ‘I am pleased the plans announced today have confirmed the opportunities for HS2’s integration with the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, which the combined authority wants to see providing much-needed improvements to links between Leeds, Bradford, York and Manchester.’