Sheffield rail schemes: Rishi Sunak announces Don Valley Line and electric Manchester link as HS2 leg ditched

Pledge for fast electrified rail link to Manchester and Sheffield to Stocksbridge train link in Prime Minister's speech
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Sheffield is to get a fast electrified rail line to Manchester - and a rail link to Stocksbridge, the Prime Minister has announced today.

Rishi Sunak included both major projects in a speech announced a new 'Network North' in his speed at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

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The Manchester link and the commitment to the Don Valley Line to Stockbridge were among several schemes name checked, after he announced the scrapping of the HS2 link to Manchester.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced major rail schemes for Sheffield which will see an electrified link to Manchester and the creation of a Don Valley Line to Stocksbridge. Pictured is Sheffield Station. Picture: David Walsh, National WorldPrime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced major rail schemes for Sheffield which will see an electrified link to Manchester and the creation of a Don Valley Line to Stocksbridge. Pictured is Sheffield Station. Picture: David Walsh, National World
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced major rail schemes for Sheffield which will see an electrified link to Manchester and the creation of a Don Valley Line to Stocksbridge. Pictured is Sheffield Station. Picture: David Walsh, National World

He told the conference: "No Government has ever developed a more ambitious scheme for northern transport than our new Network North. This is the right way to drive growth and spread opportunity across our country, to level up. With our new Network North, you will be able to go from Manchester to the new station in Bradford in 30 minutes, Sheffield in 42 minutes, and Hull in 84 minutes on a fully electrified line."

After announcing a link between Manchester and Liverpool and a Leeds tram he added: "We will fund the Shipley bypass, the Blyth relief road and deliver 70 other road schemes. We will resurface roads across the country. We will bring back the Don Valley Line. We will upgrade the energy coast line between Carlisle, Workington and Barrow. We'll build hundreds of other schemes and keep the £2 bus fare across the whole country. I challenge anyone to tell me with a straight face that all that isn't what the north really needs."

Mr Sunak announced when he was chancellor in his 2021 Autumn Budget that plans to restore the Don Valley line, with stops at Deepcar, Oughtibridge, Wadsley Bridge, Neepsend and possibly even Kelham Island, had been awarded a slice of the Government’s £500 million Restoring Your Railway Fund.

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Should the route be revived with at least two trains an hour running between Stocksbridge and the city centre under the plans submitted, onward connections could also be provided to Rotherham, Worksop and Chesterfield. Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates has previously said it would cut journey times between Stocksbridge and the Sheffield city centre to just 15 minutes.

She said today: "I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has today backed my plan to reopen the Don Valley Line between Stocksbridge and Sheffield, and committed to funding it as part of the new “Network North” project to improve transport connectivity.

"Restoring passenger services on the existing freight line will be transformative for communities along the route, significantly cutting journey times and reducing congestion.

"I've been working hard with local partners to make the case for the reopening of this line since I was elected. It has huge support amongst local people and I'm thrilled that it will now be delivered.

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"Network North will also see full electrification and more capacity on the lines connecting Sheffield to Leeds, Manchester, Doncaster and Hull. I particularly welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of extra money for local bus services in South Yorkshire and an extension of the Government’s funding for the £2 bus fare cap.

"By taking the tough decision to redirect money from HS2 to local transport improvements across the North, far more people will benefit from this investment and see upgrades to their local bus and rail services. This is the right decision for people across my constituency and South Yorkshire as a whole."

The announcement of an electrified link from Manchester to Sheffield would cut the travel time to Manchester.

According to East Midlands Railway's website, the fastest train to Manchester currently takes 50 minutes, with the average time just over an hour. However Sheffield station is not currently electrified.