Is Sheffield destined to fail and trail?

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It seems that the Local Enterprise Partnership, (June 23), is taking the usual lukewarm Sheffield/South Yorkshire line on rail. Is the LEP satisfied with the status quo? Does it have a vision amounting to more than just uttering connectivity? If so, how will it deliver connectivity across the Sheffield City Region, an area with massive catching-up to do?

Is it lobbying to ensure that Midland Main Line electrification is not limited to the ex-steel town of Corby, but extended through to the Steel City before heading north to South Kirkby Junction to create an electrified link to Leeds? Does it recognise the part that electrification plays through the “sparks effect” in terms of aiding recovery and regeneration? Does it know of a better means of narrowing the North-South divide and securing parity with rival cities?

Where does it stand on Northern Powerhouse Rail? Is it pressing for the reopening of the Woodhead route, noting that compared with the other four cities of the Northern Powerhouse, Sheffield is detached, isolated and remote, since they are all served by the same line across the Pennines? Should this not be a signal for Sheffield taking the lead?

What is the LEP’s stance on network capacity? How does it view the Hope Valley line upgrade? Is it campaigning to ensure that Sheffield will benefit from the third fast path that is part of this scheme? Where does it stand on new stations? The Hope Valley project will yield the reinstatement of the Manchester platform at Dore & Totley, but two platforms are not wanted; the need is for four platforms and four tracks to liberate the Sheaf Valley through the provision of new stations at Heeley and Millhouses in a scheme to reduce chronic Abbeydale Road corridor traffic congestion. Complete the package of making Dore & Totley a hub by renaming it Sheffield South Parkway. Is there anything more galling than initially having to travel in the wrong direction to reach your intended destination? How ridiculous is this?

Does it accept that through electrification and Meadowhall Interchange improvements the long-standing environmental hotspot of Tinsley would gain? Did they not note the Canadian research on areas next to major roads and the risk that residents in such places faced in respect of suffering from dementia?

Is this not an ideal first task for A Better Future Together (ABFT) the strategy presented to the Sheffield City Region covering equality, health and transport? Was the LEP not concerned by the 2016 ORR report on Yorkshire stations usage that showed Leeds scoring 29.7m passengers, followed by a distant Sheffield registering 9.2m users? How would it narrow this Yorkshire divide, or is Sheffield destined to fail and trail?

A Oldfield

Secretary, Huddersfield, Penistone & Sheffield Rail Users’ Association