Dates have been revealed for completion of major schemes worth hundreds of millions of pounds, which will improve Sheffield’s rail connections with London and Manchester.
Fast, cleaner electric trains between Sheffield and London could be running by 2020, a report has revealed.
Meanwhile extra tracks between Sheffield and Manchester which would allow more trains to run are to be completed by 2018.
A further electrification project between Sheffield and Doncaster could also take place in the 2020s.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who announced last summer that electrification would go ahead, said: “The scheme is good for the economy and will help to close the north-south divide between prosperity in different parts of Britain.”
Plans to electrify the Midland Main Line between Sheffield and London at a cost of £500 million, and upgrade the Hope Valley line between Sheffield and Manchester, have already been approved by the Government.
But no specific dates had been revealed – only that work would start between 2015 and 2019.
A report to South Yorkshire’s Integrated Transport Authority has now revealed electrification of the Midland Main Line is ‘due to reach Sheffield by 2020’.
Meanwhile, trans Pennine improvements, which include dualling the track and providing a second platform at Dore and Totley Station plus passing loops for slow passenger and freight trains in the Hope Valley, are to be ‘completed by 2018’.
Electrification of the Midland Main Line should reduce journey times between Sheffield and London from just over two hours to around one hour 45 minutes.
Work on the Hope Valley line aims to allow a third fast train to run each hour between Sheffield and Manchester, boosting capacity, and saving five minutes on journey times between the cities.
A report to the transport authority said: “It is currently planned that electrification will reach Sheffield by 2020, with Network Rail developing plans to continue to the East Coast Main Line at Doncaster in the next investment period.”
The next period for major investment schemes such as electrification by Network Rail would be between 2019 and 2024.
Electrification of the Midland Main Line also involves creating a new link between Bedford and Southampton, which could be used for new services from Sheffield.
Meanwhile the report to the transport authority, to be discussed at a meeting next Thursday, reveals improvements between Sheffield and Manchester are to happen more quickly due to ‘an expected increase in freight demand’. The line is used heavily by quarry trains, which sometimes cause delays to passenger services.
“The aim is to complete this work by 2018 to cater for increased demand,” the report said.
A £145m scheme to increase line speeds and freight capacity on the Midland Main Line is also proposed but no dates set.