Rail passengers could get from Sheffield to Manchester in 40 minutes, if £70 billion plans to transform transport in the north get the go-ahead.
Journey times to Leeds, Hull and London would also be slashed, under wide-ranging proposals set out in the final version of Transport for the North’s (TfN) Strategic Transport Plan.
A new tunnel and road-widening works are planned between Sheffield and Manchester, £45 million is proposed to widen Sheffield Parkway and a new £180m rail link and station would be built to better connect Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
The final draft plan is set to go before political and business leaders on TfN’s board next Thursday, and if approved will be launched in Sheffield the following Monday.
The plan, which TfN claims would create 850,000 new jobs and boost the northern economy by £100bn, would then be considered by the Government, which must decide whether to provide funding.
Proposals to boost links to Sheffield and the surrounding region, which include the second phase of the HS2 high speed rail link, have not altered dramatically since the initial draft plans were unveiled at the beginning of last year.
However, some of the estimated journey times have been revised and the latest document says that if upgrades to the existing Hope Valley line linking Sheffield and Manchester cannot speed up rail links sufficiently the case for a new line between the two cities will be given further consideration.
The key improvements planned in the Sheffield region are:
Widening of the A630 Sheffield Parkway near Junction 33 of M1 to address congestion (£45m)
Supertram track renewal Phase 2 (£27m)
New rail link and station at Doncaster Sheffield Airport (£180m)
Improved rail links between Sheffield and Manchester, Leeds and Hull
If all the work gets the go-ahead, this is how it is how long it would take to get from Sheffield to other major cities:
SHEFFIELD-MANCHESTER 40 minutes, four trains an hour (currently 49-57 minutes, two trains an hour)
SHEFFIELD-LEEDS 28 minutes, four trains an hour (currently 39-42 minutes, one train an hour)
SHEFFIELD-HULL 50 minutes, two trains an hour (currently 80-86 minutes, one train an hour)
SHEFFIELD-BIRMINGHAM 49 minutes (65 minutes)
SHEFFIELD-LONDON 87 minutes (127 minutes).
The improvements are planned to take place between now and 2050, but TfN says work on some elements could begin as soon as 2024 if funding is secured.
TfN’s chief executive Barry White said: “For the people of the north, this will mean more choice over where they live and work, access to higher quality jobs and better connections to friends and families. It will mean our businesses have more opportunity to collaborate, trade and grow in a sustainable way.
“This final plan will be a statutory document written by the north, for the north, and will be our blueprint to deliver transformational change and leave a legacy for future generations.”
Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis said: “This is an important step in the right direction. It’s the start of a process in which the north takes ownership of its own destiny, gaining a greater say and greater control over the transport investments which will shape our future.
“Together, we call on the Government to recognise the growth potential of our great towns and cities across the north and back the investments detailed in the plan.”
The Department for Transport said in a statement: “This government is committed to reversing decades of underinvestment in northern transport and we will have invested a record £13bn in the region by 2020.
“We welcome the progress TfN has made in finalising this plan which is a major milestone towards building the Northern Powerhouse. We will work closely with TfN while we carefully consider its plans.”