Sheffield's concerns 'dismissed' in airport rail link consultation

The government has been accused of dismissing Sheffield’s concerns in a consultation that could see the city’s rail link to Manchester Airport scrapped.

By David Walsh
Thursday, 18th March 2021, 11:49 am

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris wrote to Sheffield MPs re-stating the aim ‘to improve train performance in Manchester’.

Sheffield would lose its direct service to Manchester Airport in two out of three proposals to reduce delays.

Last week, city MPs wrote to transport secretary Grant Shapps claiming the link was ‘vital’ and scrapping it would undermine the Government’s levelling up agenda.

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Sheffield station.

But Mr Heaton-Harris wrote back: ‘Our aim is to create a simpler, more evenly spaced timetable that reduces the risk of knock-on delays and provides a network of connecting services that people can rely upon day after day.

‘While the work is focused on Manchester, it is recognised that the issues of congestion in the city are felt across much of the network. Evidence shows that many of the issues in the Manchester area are due to delays generated elsewhere – in particular around Sheffield.

‘It has also highlighted that by re-casting the timetable with a more regular service pattern and a reduced risk of knock-on delays, there is the opportunity to build a more robust timetable which can be built on in the future’.

He added: ‘We know that direct services to Manchester Airport are highly valued by stakeholders across the region, however in any exercise such as this we know there will be trade-offs’.

Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield said it was a ‘disappointing response’ that dismissed Sheffield’s concerns and they would be following up on it.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.