Railways future in spotlight

Peter Kennan is a Partner at Hawsons Chartered Accountants and the Vice-Chair of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce's Transport Forum
Peter Kennan is a Partner at Hawsons Chartered Accountants and the Vice-Chair of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce's Transport Forum
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Our forum deals with all transport issues that affect Sheffield business, whether it be road, air, cycling, walking or rail – and it has certainly been a busy period for the latter.

The major rail franchises that serve Sheffield have been up for renewal.

These include Trans Pennine Express which operates services from Cleethorpes to Manchester Airport via Sheffield; Northern Rail , which serves local routes but also Sheffield to Leeds and East Midlands Trains, which operates services from Sheffield to London and Liverpool and Manchester to Nottingham and Norwich via Sheffield.

All the rail operators seek and take on board the views of business and we have been busy talking to the bidders for the new franchises, as well as to East Midlands Trains, who are being offered a two-year extension to their franchise.

The key issues are punctuality, overcrowding and cleanliness. But new factors are also high on the list, including provision of adequate WiFi and an increased number of fast services from Sheffield to both Leeds and Manchester city centres

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has been taking evidence on the economic case for high-speed rail in the UK. I appeared before the Committee and was asked about the economic benefits of the scheme to Sheffield, views on the location of the city’s station, and information about capacity constraints within the network.

Work is continuing in talking to the bidders for the Trans Pennine Express and Northern Rail franchises and also making sure other stakeholders, including South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, Sheffield City Council and Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, are aware of the Chamber’s views.

A further meeting is planned with Department for Transport officials to talk about the East Midlands Trains franchise.

The Transport Forum has also been involved in discussing with East Midlands Trains the problems of access at Sheffield Station. Some work has been done on the drop-off area, but the problem of adequate parking for taxis is unlikely to be solved without acquiring further land.