Fury over delay to Sheffield-Manchester rail link upgrade

Residents have vented their fury over delays to a long-awaited upgrade to the railway route linking Sheffield and Manchester.

Friday, 4th October 2019, 7:53 am
Updated Monday, 7th October 2019, 12:26 pm

Work on the Hope Valley line is now not scheduled to begin until 2022 – a full seven years after consultation on the scheme first began in 2015.

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Work on the line would pave the way for a third fast train per hour between the two cities and an hourly stopping service, rather than one every two hours, running through the Peak District.

A Trans Pennine train service.

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The relatively minor project was finally approved in February 2018 and Network Rail said work on the upgrade was due to begin in 2019.

But the firm, which owns the country’s tracks and stations and is responsible for the work, now says construction is not expected to start until 2022 and is scheduled for completion by 2023.

They added the scheme must be reviewed to ensure it ‘meets current railway standards’ before the contract can go out to tender.

A number of Star readers have now taken to Facebook to vent their anger over the delay.

Paul Martyn said: “We can see where the transport priorities lie – London and the south east and yet again the midlands and the north are the poor relations. Appalling.”

Richard Grundy added: “Let's be honest here, look at where the new Northern Rail units are going - not Sheffield.

“Where are the new Trans-Pennine Express units going - not Sheffield.

“When the Norwich - Liverpool service is broken in two where will the connection be - not Sheffield.

“The government (of whichever persuasion) believes that the north revolves around Manchester and Leeds.”

Phil Smith decribed the situaton as an “absolute joke."

Gill Furniss, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, who raised the matter in Parliament earlier this month, branded the wait ‘extraordinary’.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We are reviewing the original plans for the Hope Valley line and expect to put the contract out to tender in the next few weeks.

“The chosen contractor, once approved by the Department for Transport, should be announced by autumn 2020. Construction is expected to start in 2022 and complete by 2023.”