THE Don and Dearne could play host to a new high-speed rail link taking 250mph trains from London to Leeds and Scotland, a pressure group revealed this week.
The Government has so far refused to give any information about northern routes in the High Speed Two (HS2) plan – which has already caused national dissent with its scheme to cut a swathe through the Home Counties and Middle England, to Birmingham.
But members of the AGHAST (Action Groups Against High Speed Two) campaign have now plotted a potential route to Leeds through Rotherham, Wombwell and Barnsley – which they have gleaned from snippets of information in the Government plans.
According to their map, the new super-fast rail route from London will branch out from the Midlands into South Yorkshire in a corridor close to the M1, before forking, at a point just south of Wakefield. From there, one spur would go to Leeds, with the other branching to join the East Coast Main Line, south of York.
The plans would effectively cut Doncaster and all towns to the south on the current East Coast Main Line, from the new high-speed route.
But Rotherham and Sheffield could have new links... possibly with a new interchange station in or around the Meadowhall area.
The route through the area is pinpointed by the group to pass close by Wombwell Wood and Monk Bretton Priory on its way to Haw Park Wood, south of Wakefield.
It would pass through the consitutencies of two top Labour MPs – Wentworth and Dearne’s John Healey and Barnsley East’s Michael Dugher.
Mr Dugher said: “I’m extremely disappointed that we’ve found out about these new routes via the media.
“I have written to the Department for Transport to get more details and I will be seeking urgent consultations on behalf of the local residents who could be affected by this.
“The Government is getting a reputation for this kind of cavalier approach to policy and they need to start learning from their mistakes.
“First they propose to sell off Wombwell Wood, only to make a u-turn, and now they are proposing a high-speed rail route which may go through it. They are just all over the place.”
HS2 Ltd, the company set up by the Government to develop the proposal, hope a new route would cut an hour from the journey time between Leeds and London, to just one hour and 20 minutes.