Rail investment plan set to bring better services for South Yorkshire

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NETWORK Rail has confirmed a huge package of investment plans will go-ahead – including electrifying the Midland Main Line between South Yorkshire and London and upgrading tracks between Sheffield and Manchester to run more trains.

The company has published its £37.5 billion investment plans for the next five years.

Benefits for South Yorkshire passengers include:

■ £500 million project to electrify the Midland Main Line between Sheffield and Bedford, meaning faster trains to London, and create a connecting electric line from Bedford to the south coast;

■ Go-ahead for the £560 million Northern Hub scheme to improve connections between northern cities – which includes dualling the track at Dore Station and widening parts of the Hope Valley Line to four tracks;

■ Fast trains from Sheffield to Manchester would be doubled from two to four and journey times reduced by five minutes as a result of the Northern Hub upgrade;

■ The tram-train trial is to go ahead between Sheffield, Rotherham and Parkgate;

■ Some bottlenecks on the East Coast Main Line, which runs through Doncaster, to be removed at a cost of £240 million to reduce delays.

The RMT union, which represents rail staff, said it ‘supports’ the plans, but is concerned about planned staffing cuts across the network to save money.

Bob Crow, general secretary, said: “While the RMT supports any plans to expand and invest in Britain’s railways to meet the demands identified by Network Rail, you cannot seriously expect to safely increase capacity while at the same time the Government is looking to axe key staff.”

Network Rail says it aims to reduce running costs by 18 per cent and cut annual public subsidy to between £2.6bn and £2.9bn in 2019, from £4.5bn in 2009. Fare rises are set to continue.