Shock as £300m Doncaster Sheffield Airport rail link plan rejected

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The government has rejected a proposal for a £300m airport rail link into Doncaster Sheffield Airport because it ‘would not offer value for money’.

The Department for Transport said there were discrepancies over passenger forecasts for the 4.5 mile route from the East Coast Mainline.

Supporters claimed it would create 72,000 new jobs and bring in £3.2bn of income to South Yorkshire.

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They also said it would more than treble the number of people within a 90 minute rail journey of the airport, to 8.8m.

The station was set to link to the East Coast Mainline.The station was set to link to the East Coast Mainline.
The station was set to link to the East Coast Mainline.

"On the basis of rigorous assessment there were significant concerns regarding the current proposal," a DfT spokesperson said.

"We are rightly focusing on those infrastructure projects which can bring significant benefits to people and boost the economy.”

The airport said it was "absolutely confident in the strength of the business case" for the rail link adding it had exceeded the DfT's estimate of passenger numbers, with 1.4m people using the airport in 2019.

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A spokesman said: “The DfT forecast for 2050 estimates passenger numbers at DSA will be between 0.4m and 1.6m. Doncaster Sheffield Airport had already exceeded the DfT’s 2050 ‘best-case’ prediction carrying in excess of 1.4m passengers in 2019 alone.

“Furthermore, recent announcements from Wizz Air to establish a permanent base at DSA means the airport is expecting 1.8m airline seats in sale during 2021, which in normal circumstances, would equate to 1.6m passengers per annum.

“We remain absolutely confident in the strength of the business case. If this Government is truly committed to levelling up the North and building back better, this scheme provides the perfect opportunity to reiterate that statement of intent to offer growth, investment and prosperity in the North.”

The airport also said the scheme was part of a wider plan "to open up" an 1,600-acre site as an "employment district".

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Andy Hibbitt, Chief Operating Officer at Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, said the project was “absolutely critical to accelerating regeneration across the region”.

He added: “Not moving forward with this development will be a sign that Government has turned its back on its agenda to “level up the country”, which is simply an option that we cannot accept.”

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