This was discussed at length during a two-hour meeting at Stocksbridge Town Hall last week between Don Valley Railway local campaign group, former Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP and Conservative parliamentary candidate for Penistone and Stocksbridge constituency, Miriam Cates.
Chris Bell from Don Valley Railway said the talks have given them a clearer picture of how to progress with their campaign for passenger trains.
“Mr Jones offered to assist in raising the profile of the Don Valley Railway’s campaign,” he said. Don Valley Railway, which has been fighting to bring back the scheme since 2003, aims to introduce passenger services between Stocksbridge/Deepcar and central Sheffield using the existing track linking the town with Sheffield Victoria Station.
The line is currently serving Tata Steelworks at Stocksbridge and is generally used by only one freight train each way a day and it is the group’s aspiration to reinstate a regular and convenient commuter rail service along the underused line.
Mr Bell said there will be further investigation during the next five years into the feasibility of reintroducing passenger services on the Don Valley line from Sheffield city centre to Deepcar, with an extension to Penistone.
There is also a possibility of new stations being created along the route and reintroducing passenger services on the Barrow Hill line from Sheffield to Chesterfield, via Beighton and extending the tram or tram-train network in Sheffield.
“Don Valley Railway will work with them to help open the line,” he said.
Mrs Cates, who is also a Parish Councillor for Oughtibridge, said the meeting was a step in the right direction as the town desperately needed more regular and reliable public transport.
“One of the big things that I’m passionate about is public transport. If you live in a semi-rural area like this, it’s very hard to get by without a car, but it shouldn’t be like that.
“If you think about all the things we need to do environmentally, getting the people out of their cars is a top priority.
“Older people often have hospital appointments in Sheffield or Barnsley and they have to take the whole day to travel to and from their appointments because the transport connections just don’t work,” she said.
She said this has prompted her to arrange a meeting between the campaign group and Mr Jones, given his wide knowledge and vast experience in the field.
“He (Mr Jones) is an MP for Harrogate - another Yorkshire constituency - so he knows northern railways very well. He talked about the processes of getting a project like this into rail development plans and we will continue working with him,” she said.
Mrs Cates said the Upper Don Valley should be the next on Sheffield’s priority list due to rapid development in the area.
“There’s a lot of new housing development here yet already, traffic from the North of the city travelling into Hillsborough and on to the city centre is causing significant congestion and the air quality is terrible.
“That’s something that Sheffield City Council has to address and a new passenger railway would help massively,” she said.
And the residents couldn’t be happier with the renewed talks of reviving the rail line, as it is “long overdue”.
Vivienne Swift, 76, from Deepcar said the rail line shouldn’t have been shut down in the first place.
“I usually have to take three buses and spend more than an hour to get to the city. The passenger services should have been done a long time ago,” she said.
Sharing the sentiment, Richard First, 73, from Stocksbridge said the passenger trains would be good for the community especially for the hundreds of houses that are currently being built.
“We just need the connectivity,” he said.