Ambitious rail plan to benefit the Sheffield City Region launched
The new Integrated Rail Plan for the future of the UK’s Sheffield City Region’s rail network will lead to improved capacity, reliability, affordability and journey times for communities and businesses across the region.
Welcomed by the Department for Transport (DfT), the Integrated Rail Plan has was produced by Sheffield City Region and its local authority partners, supported by organisations including Transport for the North (TfN).
It sets out a vision for how the region will be better connected by both high-speed and conventional rail networks into the future – regionally, across the North, and nationally.
The plan recognises that, while the benefits of national investment in High Speed Two (HS2) and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) should be maximised, there also needs to be ongoing, complementary investment in the local and regional rail and road networks. By doing this, the plan can best improve capacity, reliability, affordability and journey times for communities and businesses across the Sheffield City Region.
Key elements of the plan include a proposed new Barnsley Dearne Valley railway station, the creation of a new Midland Main Line station in Rotherham; an East Coast Main Line railway station at Doncaster Sheffield Airport; extension of the Tram-Train, the upgrade of the Hope Valley Line, and significant upgrades of both Sheffield and Chesterfield railway stations to accommodate HS2 services.
Delivering a step-change in rail services
Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at TfN, said: “As part of the multi-billion-pound Northern Powerhouse Rail programme, we want to deliver a step-change in rail services for existing hubs like Sheffield, as well as opportunities for new stations – for instance Barnsley Dearne Valley. The result will be more seats, on new, faster trains, direct to more locations across the North and beyond. Couple that with the opportunities to reduce car trips and stimulate local housing and job creation, and it becomes an extremely compelling story. But if we’re to genuinely transform the experience for passengers, we need to ensure that all the proposed rail and road investments work together.”
Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “This is a landmark moment for our region. For the first time, government, regional partners and our local authorities have come together to welcome a vision for the future of our rail services, creating a plan that will revolutionise rail travel for our communities.”
He continued: “…although individual pieces of infrastructure are undoubtedly important; the most important feature of this Plan is that it ties together separate projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail into one cohesive whole, enabling people to travel within our region, across the North and nationally in a simple and efficient way.
Robert Hough, Chairman of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: “Integrating a new ECML rail station with Doncaster Sheffield Airport’s site will drive economic growth within and beyond the region. It will help create up to 73,000 jobs, provide balance across the country and more sustainable travel through reducing the significant amount of journeys currently made to airports outside the region.”
Mark Thurston, HS2 Ltd’s CEO, said: “Plans for local road and rail investment will ensure that when HS2 arrives, communities and businesses across the region will be well placed to benefit from more and better connected rail services to the North, Midlands and the South, allowing the region to fully realise its economic potential.”
Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “The opportunities to connect people to higher skilled jobs, as well as support local housing growth, are supported by our infrastructure being improved here in the Northern Powerhouse. When connecting on to HS2, wherever they have started their journey in the region, as well as travelling on to Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester will be easier, with global links. The whole package, including improvements for the station at Rotherham, will make sure that with the private sector and research investment being secured on the back of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), and Dan Jarvis and his team’s wider work on the Advanced Manufacturing Corridor, will benefit from being easily accessible from across the North, the country and the world.”