Thursday, August 10, 2017

News: Rotherham misses out on new station funding

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Government funding has not been secured for a new station to provide Rotherham with the rail connectivity it deserves.

A £20m Government fund for providing resources towards the cost of building new stations has gone to other parts of the country.

A recent study showed that Rotherham's economy is not as strong as comparable centres and its rail connectivity is not as good but the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) has confirmed that a bid to the New Station Fund was not submitted.

The SYPTE, in partnership with Rotherham Council commissioned a study in 2015 looking to identify the level of rail service required to support Rotherham's economic and transport needs.

Despite the town's central station benefiting from a £8.5m redevelopment, the study concluded that the only practical and cost effective way to enhance rail connectivity to Rotherham is to consider providing a new railway station on the mainline to take advantage of services that currently pass through the borough but do not stop. An issue that is likely to be replicated by HS2 with the M18 route.

Rotherham Council included the potential new station, which would cost around £15m, in its capital investment strategy but developing the business case for a new railway station is considered a significant exercise.

The authority said that a new station serving much of Rotherham's urban area would have "economic agglomeration benefits resulting in an annual GDP uplift of £26m."

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A site at Parkgate was the frontrunner, which would cater for inter-regional services, in the form of a Parkway type station and would be complementary to the role of Rotherham Central. The study, carried out by JMP, indicated that the new station could benefit from direct services to Sheffield, Doncaster, Manchester and its airport, Cleethorpes, Hull, York, Newcastle, Reading and a potential new service to connect to Leeds.

Other initial locations for new station included the site of the council's depot at Greasbrough Road, Henry Boot's Parkgate development at Forge Way and even the mainline station at Masbrough that closed in 1987.

Peter Elliott, principal programme delivery & planning manager at SYPTE, said: "SYPTE is working with Sheffield City Region to inform its plans to develop a mass transit network which will link the region's urban centres and growth areas with its markets and labour force.

"SYPTE recently completed a feasibility study on the possibility of creating a new station at Rotherham Parkgate and the scheme was included in the Sheffield City Region Transport Prospectus. Sheffield City Region's proposals for an integrated multi-modal mass transit network will explore the potential for a range of rail schemes and whether these could form part of such an integrated network."

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Published earlier this year, the city region prospectus provides the vision for growing high-value jobs and prosperity by radically improving transport and connectivity.

The idea of a potential integrated mass transit network involves upgrading, extending and creating new routes. It will build on work connected to HS2 and follows the innovative tram-train trial between Sheffield and Rotherham.

The prospectus stated: "We want a mass transit network, supported by smart, integrated ticketing and innovative urban mobility solutions that provides the high quality mass transit options necessary to link our urban centres and growth areas with their markets and labour force."

Potential new stations could be created at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) and at a new site in Rotherham for a parkway station.
The prospectus also calls for improvements in journey times and service frequencies, and station upgrades to bring all stations up to Better Station standards. There is also a call to increase local rail capacity to provide efficient rail services between key economic centres in the region and beyond.

The document adds: "As part of proposals for an integrated multi-modal mass transit network, we would want to explore the potential for a range of rail schemes and whether these would form part of such an integrated network. These include two trains per hour between Sheffield and Worksop, proposals for parkway stations in the Dearne Valley and in Rotherham, better connections between Sheffield, Barnsley and Leeds, and an increase in Park & Ride provision."

SYPTE website

Images: AHR Global / SCR


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