NORTHERN Powerhouse Rail could transform access to Sheffield City Region, bolstering the local economy. City leaders and northern partners have welcomed the move to bring fast and frequent rail services to the region – and the opportunities for businesses and residents.
Transport for the North is preparing outline plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail, expected to be agreed by partners from the North of England before submission to Government in December.
Sheffield City Region will be on a network with Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will operate with greater capacity and at significantly higher speeds than those available today. It will feature major upgrades to the lines to Hull and Manchester, as well as a much faster connection to Leeds utilising the new HS2 line.
Research commissioned by Transport for the North has demonstrated the power of Northern Powerhouse Rail to connect people, jobs and businesses. It shows that the programme could bring more than 100,000 extra businesses (108,000) and nearly 2.4 million more people (2.38m) within 90 minutes travel time of the city centre.
The statistics give an early indication of the scope of the major rail project, which will provide fast, frequent and reliable rail links between the North’s six major city regions. With continued research and analysis, Transport for the North is creating clear, fully-costed proposals for the multi-billion-pound scheme.
Tim Wood, Transport for the North’s Director for Northern Powerhouse Rail, said: “Sheffield has embraced its industrial heritage and forged ahead as a leader in advanced manufacturing and aerospace technologies. It’s the centre of international research, exporting world-leading knowledge. But to continue to grow, it needs better, faster and more seamless rail connections to the rest of the North.
“With Northern Powerhouse Rail, we can transform rail travel for Sheffield at a scale witnessed only once in a lifetime. It’s an opportunity to deliver a world-class railway for the North, bringing with it massive opportunities for the city’s future.
“Bringing over 100,000 businesses within easier reach of Sheffield City Region, and millions more northern citizens within commutable distance, will bolster the city region’s economy and see its key sectors flourish for decades to come.”
“Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “It’s great news for residents, businesses and visitors alike that work is continuing to make Northern Powerhouse Rail a reality.
“The benefits are clear. Improved journey times and frequencies to the other major cities of the North including Leeds and Manchester, and better connectivity and capacity improvements on local lines, so rail passengers can travel around the region and the wider North with greater ease.
“These improved links will quadruple the number of businesses that are within 90 minutes of major northern cities, potentially bringing huge economic benefits and access to jobs for the whole region.”
Northern Powerhouse Rail is intended to help rebalance the economy, giving millions the chance of business and career opportunities that the existing rail infrastructure cannot deliver. It will feature new and planned rail lines, as well as major upgrades to existing routes, supporting the creation of more than 850,000 additional jobs in the North of England by 2050 and an extra £100 billion into the economy.
Sheffield, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle will all be key hub stations on the Northern Powerhouse Rail network with Manchester Airport also a vital component, offering global transport connections.
For Sheffield, the programme will mean a 51% increase in the number of people living within an hour’s travel of Sheffield City Region.
Programme Director Tim Wood added: “We’re joining the dots in the North like never before and Sheffield is a critical component of the emerging picture for Northern Powerhouse Rail.
“Taking a whole-network approach is just what the North needs. Northern Powerhouse Rail won’t just benefit one location but will link our major towns and cities and help the North compete on a world stage.
“This will provide tangible differences to businesses and people in Sheffield. Not only will residents be able to take advantage of opportunities further afield, businesses will be able to draw on a wider pool of talent and reach neighbouring economic centres quicker. We need those businesses to get behind this vision.”
Working with the Department for Transport, Transport for the North will submit the Strategic Outline Business Case for Northern Powerhouse Rail to the Secretary of State in December. Subject to further design and business case approval, construction could then begin in 2024.