Sheffield station is tops - minister

GORDON Brown's rail minister picked Sheffield Midland as his favourite station during a five-day tour of the nation's rail network.

Lord Adonis was initially criticised after an itinerary sent to journalists detailing the stations he was stopping at during his tour of Britain failed to mention Sheffield.

Local councillors accused him of "snubbing" the city and said it was "frustrating" that he had missed the opportunity to meet opponents of plans to install ticket barriers in the city's station.

But it has now been revealed the minister made a last minute alteration to his schedule and did visit the station on the third day of his tour, after catching a train from Manchester.

Writing in his online "diary", he said: "I decided I had the time to go onto Sheffield.

"The TransPennine line included three long tunnels, the longest Totley at over three miles, as the train winds through the stunningly beautiful Hope Valley before joining the Midland mainline at Dore and running north-east into Sheffield.

"Apart from this final stretch the line speed never rises above 70mph, which makes the term Trans-Pennine Express a bit of a misnomer, although the service is greatly improved in recent years."

He heaped praise on Sheffield station, calling it a "real delight".

He said: "It has been beautifully restored and has excellent retail and waiting facilities for passengers - open to a reasonable hour in the evening, unlike my recent experience at Southampton Central station.

"After three days of station visits, I have a rank order of major stations. Sheffield is at the top, Birmingham New Street and Southampton Central are not."

Lord Adonis went on the UK rail tour in a bid to experience rail travel from the perspective of an ordinary fare-paying passenger. He travelled around 2,000 miles on some 40 trains.

The 50 million Sheffield Station Gateway Project was officially opened by transport minister Gillian Merron two years ago.

David Young, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive's director of customer experience, said: "It is particularly pleasing that having travelled throughout the UK over several days Lord Adonis should choose Sheffield Station as the highlight.

"It is a testament to all the hard work we and our partners put in to transform it and its surroundings into an attractive gateway to the city."

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