//Mayor launches ambitious vision for future of rail across the Sheffield City Region

Published 18th July 2019 at 7:00am

An ambitious new plan for the future of the Sheffield City Region’s rail network was launched today by Mayor Dan Jarvis.

The Integrated Rail Plan, has been welcomed by the Department for Transport. It 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 HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), should be maximised, there 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, with the preferred location on a site in Goldthorpe; 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 the railway stations at both Sheffield and Chesterfield, to accommodate HS2 services.

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.

“A new station in the Dearne Valley, on the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, will offer potentially transformational regeneration opportunities for that area. I look forward to working with the Department for Transport to ensure that sits alongside essential investment in the surrounding road network, especially at the pinch point around Hickleton and Marr.

“But 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.

“When I became Mayor I made transport one of my key priorities. Following on from the launch of my Transport Strategy, the appointment of Dame Sarah Storey as the Sheffield City Region’s first Active Travel Commissioner, the launch of our independent Bus Review and the submission of a £220m Transforming Cities Fund bid, this is another example of how I’m taking action to ensure our transport network is fit for the 21st century.”

Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at Transport for the North, 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. We welcome Mayor Dan Jarvis’ work with local partners to set out a coherent plan for their region that incorporates local, regional and national infrastructure priorities.”

The Plan lays out a preference for a the new Barnsley Dearne Valley railway station on the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, rather than a Parkway station on the HS2 mainline in South Yorkshire. However, that support is dependent on surrounding road infrastructure being upgraded as part of the package for the new station.

This is one of the reasons why work has already begun on building the business case for a bypass on the A635, taking traffic out of the congested villages of Hickleton and Marr.

Robert Hough, Chairman of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: “We welcome this plan, which crucially focusses on delivery. That is what really counts to businesses and people. Making progress on new infrastructure which can support current economic needs and accelerate opportunity now, not years away, is very important.

“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: “We welcome the proposals outlined by Sheffield City Region. 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 Metro Mayor of Sheffield City Region has taken another important step forward with an ambitious integrated rail plan. The Northern Powerhouse needs strong economic regions, and connecting the Dearne Valley at Goldthorpe to the Northern Powerhouse Rail network alongside stations at Sheffield, as well as at Doncaster on the way to Hull, will put the city region at the heart of the North’s new railway.

“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.”

Many of the schemes outlined in the plan are included in the Sheffield City Region’s Transforming Cities Fund bid.

Others are programmed into work either already planned by Network Rail, or forms part of Transport for the North’s investment programme, which is under development.

The full Integrated Rail Plan can be read on the Sheffield City Region website here.