Snake Pass at 200: Northern experts call for investment to improve transport between Sheffield and Manchester
Northern transport experts say investment is needed to improve ‘below par’ transport links between Sheffield and Manchester.
They spoke as the Snake Pass marks its 200th anniversary next week.
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “Poor rail connectivity between Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds has held back all three of these ambitious cities for decades. Many people are forced to drive on congested roads rather than face the slow, not adequately frequent and too often unreliable train services.
“While planned road improvements to the wider route between Sheffield and Manchester, including the Mottram Bypass, are a good start, these will not be a substitution for further improvements and the substantial investment needed for rail connections between the two cities.
“The planned short-term upgrades on the Hope Valley line will be a step in the right direction while we wait for the full delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail between Sheffield and Manchester. This will be key to quicker, greener, easier travel in the future, which is vital for unlocking growth and investment across the whole region.”
The idea of a 25-mile Trans-Pennine Tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield was unveiled in 2016. But earlier this year Transport for the North argued the £12bn ambitious plans for a dual carriageway should be dropped.
A spokesman said further assessments/studies are ongoing into single bore or shorter tunnel options.
They added: “As is the case throughout our region, east-west connectivity over the Pennines is notoriously below par and in urgent need of investment.
“Snake Pass and Woodhead Pass, while offering beautiful views, are simply not practical for modern needs, so it’s essential that anyone travelling across the Pennines has a number of high-standard and reliable choices. This includes rail as well as road.
“Transport for the North has worked with Government and Highways England in considering a number of options for new and improved trans-Pennine roads. As discussed at our January 2021 Board meeting, there are significant challenges to delivering a full dual carriageway trans-Pennine route.
"However, we strongly believe that improving east-west routes linking Sheffield City Region and Greater Manchester will support the national levelling up agenda and bring considerable benefits for people and businesses.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: ““The Trans-Pennine Tunnel study remains in early development and no decisions have been made about the next steps.”