D-day approaches in campaign to reopen long-lost Sheffield railway line

A decision is expected imminently about plans to reopen a long-lost railway line through Sheffield.

By Robert Cumber
Thursday, 30th April 2020, 11:38 am
Updated Thursday, 30th April 2020, 12:45 pm

Proposals were submitted in February to revive the Don Valley line between Sheffield city centre and Stocksbridge, with up to three trains an hour calling at Deepcar, Oughtibridge, Wadsley Bridge and Neepsend.

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates, Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority and the Don Valley Railway campaign group, which teamed up to produce the plans, expect to hear shortly whether they will get a slice of £500 million to help make them a reailty.

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Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates with railways minister Chris Heaton-Harris during his visit to the Don Valley railway line

It was one of 60 applications received in the first round of the Government's Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund to help reopen routes which were axed as part of the Doctor Beeching cuts during the 1960s and 70s.

The £500 million being made available is intended to help prepare a full business case for selected projects, including working out costings, completing an environmental audit and carrying out public consultation, with significantly more money needed to actually get them up and running.

The Department for Transport has set up a virtual panel chaired by rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris to consider the bids and says it will write to applicants in May to update them on the progress of their propsals.

Some projects will be awarded funding for more detailed studies while other applicants will be offered support to develop their proposals for consideration in future funding rounds scheduled to start in June and November.

The Don Valley route, which still carries freight trains to the steelworks in Stocksbridge, is part of the old Woodhead line between Sheffield and Manchester which closed to passengers in 1970.

Under the initial plans to revive the route, between one and three trains an hour would run from Stocksbridge to either the old Sheffield Victoria station or Nunnery Square Park and Ride, and services could be extended to Rotherham, Chesterfield, Workshop and Lincoln.

Ms Cates has claimed the project could ease congestion on ‘gridlocked’ roads and improve access to jobs and vital services, lifting the region out of ‘transport poverty’.

She says it would be relatively inexpensive, given it remains a working line.