Sheffield businessman applies to buy land for new steam railway service through city

The land in question is to the north east of the existing tracks, seen here curving east towards Stocksbridge
The land in question is to the north east of the existing tracks, seen here curving east towards Stocksbridge

A new heritage railway service in Sheffield has moved a step closer after a businessman applied to buy the land needed.

David Breen recently unveiled proposals to revive part of the old Woodhead railway line which once ran between Sheffield and Manchester, and his plans appear to have caught the public imagination.

The South Yorkshire (Woodhead) Heritage Railway group he launched on Facebook now has more than 300 members, with many people keen to see the surviving tracks between Sheffield city centre and Stocksbridge carrying passengers again.

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Mr Breen, a property investor living in Stocksbridge, has now revealed he is in talks to buy the land needed to get the project up and running.

Posting on Facebook this week, he wrote: “We have applied to purchase the two sections of land on the South Wortley Spur between Deepcar and the A616.

“In relation to the lower section today I have received notification from Network rail that a surveyor has been instructed.”

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Mr Breen wants to create a new station near the A616 at South Wortley in Barnsley, off a short new spur track, and run steam trains so leisure passengers can enjoy a trip back in time.

The land he is attempting to buy is north of the old Deepcar station.

He is working closely with Don Valley Railway, which has been campaigning since 2003 to introduce a twice-hourly shuttle service between Stocksbridge and the old Sheffield Victoria station in the city centre, with a journey time of 11 minutes.

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Mr Breen has said he is prepared to invest some of his own money in the project, which could be at least partly funded by selling shares to community backers, as has happened elsewhere in the country.

The tracks between Sheffield Victoria and Stocksbridge are the last surviving section of the old Woodhead line, which closed in 1981, and they are currently used by freight trains serving Liberty Speciality Steels in Stocksbridge.