Sheffield chief calls for cash to make northern transport plan ‘reality’

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The leader of Sheffield Council has called for Government funding to turn an ambitious transport plan for the north ‘into reality’.

Improving the Hope Valley railway line to cut journey times between Manchester and Sheffield to 27 minutes and a new major road link under the Pennines to connect the two cities will be ‘explored’ as part of the Transport for the North strategy.

Other measures, including speeding up the HS2 high speed rail link delivery and a new rail line between Sheffield and Manchester, are included.

Coun Julie Dore, one of the northern council leaders who worked on the plan with Government, said connecting cities in the north was ‘essential’ for attracting businesses.

She added: “What we now need to see from the Government is real commitment and funding to deliver these projects which will make the difference to turn this strategy into reality.”

A £12.5 million development budget has been agreed to progress proposals in the report,

Measures also include reviewing the impact of improvements to the M1 and upgrading the A1 to improve journey reliability to distribution centres near Doncaster and Sheffield.

Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the report did ‘build on’ previous work and could have ‘huge benefit to Sheffield’.

He said he believed Government should borrow money to invest in the plans and the northern economy.

Mr Clegg said: “I think the level of consensus on this is new. People like to observe that some of these ideas have been floated in the past but they haven’t been outlined in such a formal plan by Government and all political parties.”