Trains on track for an upgrade

Sheffield MP Clive Betts.
Sheffield MP Clive Betts.
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Rail services in South Yorkshire could be in line for a major upgrade to lines.

A Government task force has been set up to consider the case for the electrification of routes from Sheffield to Manchester, Sheffield to Doncaster, and Sheffield to Leeds.

The improvements, being looked at as part of a nationwide bid to combat congestion on roads, would increase the frequency and speed of train journeys to and from each destination.

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts said: “This would be a significant boost for the whole city.

“Links to London are important but they are not the only links which are important for connectivity.

“Routes between the north and the south are better than the current transpennine links, which are appalling. They’re almost Victorian.

“The Hope Valley line is not a great line anyway but electrification would be welcome news.”

Mr Betts said the upgrade could open up more possibilities for the Tram Train pilot project between Sheffield and Rotherham, due to launch in 2015. It will run three times a day between Rotherham Parkgate and Sheffield.

He added: “Lines have to be electrified for that purpose. The trams will come into the city centre so there is more possibility for that to be developed.”

Experts from Network Rail and the Department for Transport are now working on a report on routes across the North to be finished within one year.

The coalition has already committed to a massive electrification programme covering more than 800 miles of track before the end of the decade, including the Midlands mainline from Sheffield to the south coast.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “These projects will benefit communities up and down the country and help keep Britain moving.

“Investing in local and regional transport infrastructure, we can support new jobs and boost competitiveness in the overall global economic race.”