AN OFFER of £3 million government money which could pay for a second bridge at Sheffield train station has been formally accepted by city leaders.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening put the money on the table to resolve the long-running dispute over whether ticket barriers should be installed at either end of the current footbridge.
Train operators said barriers would reduce fare evasion on trains from Sheffield, which is estimated to lose them £2.3m each year.
But residents of Norfolk Park and Park Hill, supported by city politicians of all parties, have campaigned for the bridge to be kept open because they say it is their only ‘safe, accessible’ way across the railway.
The alternative is a rundown, graffiti-covered bridge south of the station, with high walls and steep steps.
Ms Greening offered the cash to rebuild the station’s second goods bridge as a public walkway or build a new bridge north of the station.
Keith Hayman, chairman of the Residents Against Station Closure protest group, said: “We welcome the secretary of state’s willingness to find a solution.”
A letter accepting the offer of funding has now been sent to Ms Greening signed by Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for transport Coun Leigh Bramall and David Young, of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive.
It reads: “We welcome your offer to earmark funding for a bridge-based method of maintaining access, not least because of the tight financial situation facing all the concerned parties.
“We are particularly grateful that you have asked your officials to consider the upgrading of the goods bridge which offers the potential to retain access through the station in a location close to the existing footbridge and tram stop.
“This option presents a real opportunity to obtain the most financially attractive solution because this bridge will probably have to be demolished in its current form when the lines are electrified.”
Mr Blomfield added: “We’re looking forward to entering into discussions with the Department for Transport to explore all options to maintain access.”