Network Rail has carried out Continuous Modular Strategic Planning (CMSP) at both South Yorkshire stations which has looked at what infrastructure enhancements are required to accommodate current and future rail services and to improve performance of the network.
Two packages of interventions to enhance capacity and performance are being developed arising from the Doncaster CMSP study – one for the area around Doncaster station and one for the South Kirkby and Hare Park area on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) branch to Leeds.
Both schemes are seeking funding from government ministers, according to South Yorkshire Combined Authority transport bosses.
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A package of shorter term, smaller scale capacity and performance enhancements have been developed for Sheffield Midland which aims to enable the station to work more flexibly and handle more trains from both north and south.
This is being presented to the Depart for Transport for funding with a view to being completed in the next five years.
A further package of longer term and more substantial interventions in the ‘wider Sheffield area’ will be developed following the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan once there is certainty on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
A study from 2019 found Doncaster railway station was identified as a ‘constraint’ on the ECML due to the ‘high number of services and limited platform and line capacity’.
The study found that over the longer term, increased services from cities like Manchester and Sheffield will need to be supported with ‘more platforms, better operational flexibility, improved track layouts and line speeds’.
Some stopping services between Sheffield and Hull/Scunthorpe are said to be terminated at Doncaster to reduce ‘conflicting moves across the ECML’ meaning passengers are having to change.
On the ECML, Alex Forrest, senior programme manager for transport at Sheffield City Region, said back in 2019: “Despite its status as the UK’s flagship rail line, the ECML has suffered from a lack of investment in recent decades, and as a result it is failing to perform to its full potential.
“Major investment was made in the West Coast Mainline about 15 years ago to bring it up to modern standards and this has significantly improved capacity, line speed and journey times on that line.
“Similar investment is now required in the ECML to enhance its performance and maintain the key role it plays in the UK’s transport network and economy.”