Upgrade for Sheffield station where passenger numbers have quadrupled - but rail users demand further improvements

A railway station in Sheffield where passenger numbers have quadrupled has had a long-awaited upgrade, but users say more needs to be done.

Monday, 22nd July 2019, 9:56 am
Updated Monday, 22nd July 2019, 4:01 pm

Nearly 179,000 people a year travel to and from Dore & Totley station, according to the latest figures, compared with 83,000 a decade ago and just 41,000 in 1997/8.

But passengers say the facilities and service at the station have failed to keep pace with the explosion in passenger numbers.

They scored a minor victory last week as a new canopy was officially unveiled by Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis, following a long campaign by the station’s friends group for more shelter.

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Chris Morgan with fellow members of the Friends of Dore & Totley Station John Bartolome, Jeremy Dench and Derek Gillibrand

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But they are still waiting for track improvements to begin which would pave the way for a third fast train per hour between Sheffield and Manchester, plus an hourly stopping service on the Hope Valley line connecting the two cities.

And they say something must be done about parking, with drivers often clogging up surrounding streets because the station’s park-and-ride car park is full.

Unveiling the new canopy last Friday, Mr Jarvis said it was a welcome addition for commuters on the ‘important route’ between Sheffield and Manchester, who could expect further improvements as part of the Integrated Rail Plan for the region, which had been unveiled the day before with the support of all four local authorities and the Department for Transport.

The new canopy at Dore & Totley station

“Within this plan is an outlined package of improvements for our community railway stations, such as at Dore & Totley. This not only includes improving the surroundings and safety features of stations but also improving journey times and frequency of trains,” he added.

When public consultation was held in 2015 about the network upgrade, which includes creating a passing loop and adding an extra track through Dore & Totley, it was envisaged that the work would be completed in 2018.

But the upgrade was only rubber stamped last year and, with work yet to begin and Network Rail refusing to commit to a detailed timescale, it is now feared passengers will not see the benefits until 2023.

Kath Aspinwall, who chairs the Hope Valley Railway Users Group (HVRUG), said: “We’re standing here on the main route from Sheffield to Manchester and it's a single track line, which is ridiculous. They really need to get on with the upgrade urgently so the service can be improved.”

Andrew Dyson, another member of the group, said: “Nine years for what’s effectively a mile of track is an incredible wait, when you consider it would increase capacity by 50 per cent. If you had the same situation in the south of England I’m sure it would happen a lot quicker.”

Chris Morgan, chairman of the Friends of Dore & Totley Station, said: “There aren't two cities in Europe of comparable size as close together which are so poorly connected. It’s only 31 miles as the crow flies, which should take 20-25 minutes, or roughly half the current best times.”

Dore and Totley ward councillor Colin Ross hailed the canopy’s installation as a victory for ‘pester power’ by the station’s friends group, but claimed something must be done about parking.

“The car park’s always full and you get people parking on local roads, so we need to either expand the car park, which would be difficult, or improve public transport links so we get fewer people coming by car,” he said.

The new canopy was jointly funded by Northern, TransPennine Express, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, Friends of Dore & Totley Station, High Peak and Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership and the Association of Community Rail Partnerships.