This is what Sheffield commuters think about huge plans to invest £600m in the railways

A rail operators’ plan to invest £600 million into improving the train network has sparked fierce debate among Star readers.

Tuesday, 20th August 2019, 3:24 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 5:48 pm

Dutch firm Abellio has taken over the East Midlands franchise – which includes services from London St Pancras to Sheffield, and the east-west route from Liverpool to Norwich – after Stagecoach was disqualified from the bidding process as it refused to take on pension liabilities.

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Abellio, owned by Dutch national rail operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen, has promised new trains, 165 new carriages and better infrastructure, as well as enhancements to waiting facilities and improved signs at Sheffield station.

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Sheffield railway station

The pledge has sparked a lot of reaction from passengers on Facebook.

Steve Shaw said: “The Government makes a lot of noise about its green credentials, but outside Sheffield station is supposed to be one of the most polluted areas in England.

“Having a load of diesel engines sitting idling doesn’t help. It could also be a stepping stone to electrifying other areas, like Manchester, Leeds and Scotland. Electric trains accelerate faster and can reduce journey times on short routes.”

Allan Tideswell added: “Sheffield station is outdated when you look at the likes of Leeds and Manchester. (It has) needed an upgrade for 30 years. No good just putting coffee shops in there.”

Paul Metcalf posted: “It needs a different route to Manchester, also more stations for commuters, maybe at Olive Grove, Wicker, Brightside, Wadsley Bridge, Oughtibridge, Stocksbridge, Penistone, etc.

“These stations wouldn’t have to be manned, many stations aren’t these days.”

The new venture is called East Midlands Railway, replacing the name East Midlands Trains.Andrew Meadows, the company’s human resources director in the UK, described it as an “exciting day for the Sheffield city region and South Yorkshire as Abellio takes over the East Midlands Railway franchise.

“We are very pleased that we have inherited a well-run railway but we feel that we can improve that railway further and as part of that we will be investing £600 million and replacing all of the existing rolling stock.“By 2022, we will have a full new fleet of high-speed Hitachi rail trains running on our intercity services. “We’re also hoping to speed up services and improve timetables.”