Your comments are needed: Time to show Sheffield’s huge rail ambition

The East Midlands rail franchise is up for renewal.
The East Midlands rail franchise is up for renewal.
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Sheffield campaigners are fighting for better rail services that are crucial to the city’s prosperity – in the face of opposition from further south.

The East Midlands rail franchise is up for renewal and faster journeys to London, better links to Manchester and upgrading the Hope Valley line are all key goals for the city.

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce’s transport forum is encouraging members to respond to a public consultation by the Department of Transport which closes on Wednesday, October 11.

A spokesman said: “The chamber is fighting for faster journeys to London at peak times in the face of huge opposition from pressure groups in Bedford and Luton.

“East Midlands councils are fighting, at the expense of Sheffield, to run a train from Leicester and Derby turning left in Dore and avoiding Sheffield on its way to Manchester. It flies in the face of all the Northern Powerhouse plans to better connect Sheffield and Manchester.

“The Secretary of State’s specification that we will have bi-mode - combined electric and diesel - trains on services to London is a concern. Trains of this type do not exist and it is a high risk strategy to specify them.

“What a mess if industry cannot create a reliable one.

“We would prefer to keep our proven trains.

“There’s also the continued delay at the DfT in approving the Hope Valley railway upgrade scheme.”

The East Midlands rail franchise covers all trains from Sheffield to London and from Sheffield to Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Norwich.

Peter Kennan, chair of Sheffield Chamber Transport Forum, said: “The routes are a critical element of Sheffield’s connectivity between the north and south, and east and west, and getting the right franchise going forward is critical to this city.

“It’s vital, therefore, that our members respond to this public consultation.”

The chamber has worked with the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Sheffield City Council on the project.