Ambitious proposals for the future of the Sheffield City Region’s transport network were agreed by the Mayoral Combined Authority today (Monday 3 June), and will now be submitted to Government.
At its meeting this morning, the MCA agreed the content of a draft Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) bid to the Department for Transport (DfT).
The bid, for up to £220m in funding, focuses on three large areas which could most benefit from significant improvements across rail, public transport and active travel schemes. The aim is to reduce journey times, cut congestion, improve punctuality and reliability, and bring about a wide range of benefits associated with active travel, such as improved health and wellbeing.
The three areas the bid focuses on are the River Don “corridor” between Sheffield city centre and the Unity site north of Doncaster; the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) on the border of Sheffield and Rotherham, and the Dearne Valley Corridor, spanning Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster and including key employment sites such as the Barnsley Digital Campus and M1 Junction 36.
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “It is critical that we improve the transport system in our region, to create better access to major employment sites, reduce congestion, better integrate different modes of transport and make our transport network fit for the 21st century.
“That’s why it’s so important that we get this Transforming Cities Fund bid right, and why we’ve been working closely with partners across South Yorkshire to ensure that our bid has real potential to drive transformational change for our communities.
“Improving our transport links is crucial for growing our economy as we develop a Global Innovation Corridor, linking residents and businesses to our internationally-significant assets in areas such as advanced manufacturing, health and wellbeing, and engineering.
“I now look forward to working with the Department for Transport as we develop our detailed plans.”
This comes after, in September last year, it was announced that the SCR was successful in becoming one of the 10 areas in the UK to be shortlisted for a share of the TCF.
In order to develop the business case, a Project Board was then established, led by the SCR Executive Team and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), which considered potential schemes put forward by the four local authorities in South Yorkshire.
Schemes included as part of the River Don programme include a potential new connection into the iPort site from Rossington, for buses and active travel; better walking and cycling routes in Armthorpe; bus priority measures at key junctions in Doncaster; walking and cycling schemes to connect communities in Adwick and Bentley to their local rail stations and connecting Maltby to Rotherham town centre with bus lanes and junction improvements.
In the Dearne Valley, plans include bus lanes and junction improvements on the A61; a Bus Rapid Transit scheme between Barnsley and Doncaster; bus priority measures on the A630; improved access between Mexborough town centre and the rail station; active travel improvements between Barnsley and Rotherham town centres and the Dearne Valley; and creating a new access into Parkgate, as well as a new 300-space park and ride site.
In the AMID programme, projects will include providing a new station on the tram-train network at Magna; improving active travel facilities; improving Darnall railway station and trialling low-emission buses.
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said Doncaster’s advantageous position as having so many links geographically locally, regionally and nationally, made it imperative that investment in transport infrastructure should be high on the agenda when looking for funding.
She said: “We must develop a more modern integrated transport system which helps people benefit from the education, employment, social and leisure opportunities in Doncaster.
“Added to that, walking and cycling as healthy ways to travel should be encouraged. This bid, if successful, will realise much-needed improvements to our bus and rail network.”
Cllr Denise Lelliott, Rotherham Council’s Cabinet member for Jobs and the Local Economy, said: “I welcome the Mayor’s improvement plan for travel across South Yorkshire.
“In Rotherham this will include schemes to reduce traffic congestion, improving bus lanes and maximising the benefits of the tram train as well as helping people to move about more easily.”
Councillor Bob Johnson, cabinet member for planning and development at Sheffield City Council, said: “These are ambitious proposals that can make a real difference to people’s lives in Sheffield, improving sustainability and tackling climate change and air pollution.
“The fund will drive up productivity through improved connections between urban centres and suburbs. By improving access to work and homes, we will contribute towards addressing air pollution and reduce carbon emissions as well as delivering apprenticeships and improving skills.
“We need to give people the means to make choices about how they travel to work and this is a significant opportunity to invest in the areas that need it most, tackling inequality and ensuring a better quality of life for all.”
Over four years, a minimum of £180m and a maximum of £220m is being sought from the TCF. If the SCR gains the maximum funding, £48m would go towards the River Don corridor, £73m to the Dearne Valley and £99m to AMID.
Central to the TCF bid is a focus on Active Travel. Mayor Jarvis has made Active Travel central to his Mayoralty, appointing Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey as the city region’s first Active Travel Commissioner and exploring ways in which prioritising Active Travel can improve people’s health, cut carbon emissions and reduce congestion.
A draft business case will be submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) in June, and a final business case will be submitted in November, so that the schemes can be considered as part of the DfT’s overall £1.22bn funding pot. The MCA will be asked to approve the final business case prior to its submission in the winter.