“Whilst the estimated cost saving of £1billion was undoubtedly a key factor in this decision, the alternative route also delivers the prospect of better integration with the existing and proposed wider transport network, particularly the Northern Powerhouse Rail’s aspirations for a Sheffield to Leeds journey time of 30 minutes.
“The route is still not fixed though and a Route Refinement Consultation for phase 2b has also been launched today by the DfT to seek responses from stakeholders affected by the new proposals. The consultation sets out 7 route refinements overall and will run until 9 March 2017 after which the Government will look to make its final decision on the proposed route. As such, there will continue to be a period of uncertainty for landowners affected by the proposed route; although without wishing to pre-empt the outcome of the consultation, it appears more likely than not that the current proposals will be adopted later in 2017.
“The Government has also confirmed the Leeds Station configuration as proposed by Sir David Higgins in November 2015 in his report ‘The Yorkshire Hub’ with a shared concourse connecting the existing station with the HS2 station. This is a far better configuration for Leeds than the original proposal in 2013 to have a separate HS2 station 500m south of the existing station, which is thanks to responses to the 2013 consultation and in particular a report by the Leeds Chamber of Commerce. There will now be a seamless interchange between HS2 services and local services. The T shaped station will fit in with the Leeds Southbank and Station Masterplan proposals to regenerate the South of Leeds – this integration with wider regeneration plans for Leeds City Centre is to be welcomed.”