New trains hope for rarely-used rail line

Parry People Mover tram-train which could run on the Sheffield-Stocksbridge rail line
Parry People Mover tram-train which could run on the Sheffield-Stocksbridge rail line
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rail enthusiasts hoping to reinstate passenger services on a Sheffield line for the first time in almost 60 years are in discussions with a train builder.

The Don Valley Railway Society (DVR) is currently developing a business case to launch a half-hourly service along the rarely-used freight line between Sheffield and Deepcar.

The track is currently used by a small number of trains running to the Tata steelworks at Stocksbridge but, although main-line services ran along the route towards the Woodhead Tunnel and onwards to Manchester as recently as the 1970s, there has been no local passenger service since 1954.

The society is in discussions with West Midlands company Parry Associates, which manufactures lightweight tram-trains - its Parry People Mover model is currently in service in Stourbridge, near Birmingham.

The trains are cheap to run and have faster acceleration than traditional units, which are also in short supply.

John Parry, Parry executive chairman, said: “We have been pleased to co-operate with DVR and believe our train could work quite well on lines such as between Sheffield and Deepcar.

“We would probably be talking about using one of our new models, which is capable of carrying up to 120 passengers and has quick acceleration, so would also be suitable for making several additional stops along the line which could be developed in the future.”

Mr Parry said the trains cost about £850,000 each to build, so are cheaper than the new trams approved for Sheffield’s Supertram - which will cost of £3.5 million each.

But DVR will need to secure backing, either with funding from loans after developing a business case for the line, or by finding a train leasing firm willing to buy the vehicle and lease it to the society.

The railway’s current proposal involves trains running half-hourly between Stocksbridge and a new platform at the site of the old Sheffield Victoria station, with journeys taking just 11 minutes.

A feasibility study completed in 2010 recommended an introductory non-stop shuttle service.

Paul Denton, of DVR, said using a Parry People Mover would mean running costs of about £600,000 a year - against predicted revenue of £900,000. The society has long-term plans to open smaller stations on the line.

n DVR is holding its annual general meeting on Monday, January 16, at 7.30pm, at the Harlequin Pub, Nursery Street, Sheffield.