Thursday, November 18, 2021

News: Integrated Rail Plan published - what it means for Rotherham


Communities in the east of Rotherham will no longer have a high speed rail lane running through them under the Government's latest plans.

But any chance of levelling up the borough through new rail connections has been delayed, with Rotherham and Sheffield missed off plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

The Government has published its Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands which will transform both east to west and north to south links, building three new high-speed lines, improving rail services to and between the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West.

The headline news is that the HS2 Phase 2b Eastern leg will no longer reach Leeds and instead the completion of the electrification of the Midland Main Line (due in the early 2030s) would allow high speed journeys from London to Chesterfield and Sheffield in the same times to those originally proposed by HS2.

A change in route in 2016 from having a HS2 station in Sheffield at Meadowhall, included a spur to Sheffield whilst the fast route to Leeds went through the East of Rotherham, affecting Wales, Aston, Ulley, Brampton-en-le–Morthen, Thurcroft, Bramley, Ravenfield and Hooton Roberts.

The Government has looked again at this leg. The plan stating: "in the light of cost increases, concerns about intermediate markets, development of plans for other schemes and analysis indicating a longer delivery timeframe since the route was confirmed in summer 2017, the Government has considered whether similar or better benefits could be obtained in a more affordable way, earlier and allow for an iterative approach to delivery."

The plan includes a pledge to look at options on how best to take HS2 services to Leeds. This means that safeguarding of the previously proposed high speed route through Rotherham will remain in place pending conclusion of this work - further uncertainty for property owners.

On NPR, a rapid, reliable and resilient rail network between the North's six biggest cities and other economic centres, the latest plan does not include any new lines or upgrades between Sheffield and Leeds with improvements on the Hope Valley line to Manchester already planned.

The "core" network also doesn't include a new mainline station in Rotherham or a Dearne Valley parkway station.

The plans state: "In the light of the Government’s plans for HS2 East set out above, proposals for improvements between Sheffield and Leeds, and York and Leeds, will need revisiting, as work to date has assumed the HS2 line to Leeds is constructed (and used for both Sheffield-Leeds and LeedsYork services). NPR will be optimised as a result of our improved plans."

Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority (now South yorkshire MCA) documents showed that a new NPR station on the main line at Rotherham to support the economic regeneration of the town was in proposals from sub-national transport body, Transport for the North (TfN).

With a "northern spur" from Sheffield, a new mainline station for Rotherham and a Barnsley Dearne Valley parkway station would have been progressed through NPR and not HS2. A location for the Rotherham station had been expected to be in Parkgate and the Government even granted the borough some £10m from its Town Deal to progress work on a new mainline station.

Moving ahead with some of TfN's proposals, the plan states: "Sheffield and Leeds are the two largest cities in Yorkshire, and the core of their respective regions. However, despite being 39 miles apart by rail, connectivity is poor, with the fastest journey time currently being 40 minutes, which is only achieved once per hour for most of the day. Connections will be further considered within the work on how best to take HS2 services to Leeds."

Looking ahead, the plan states that the core NPR work "would be capable of future possible options to improve services to Sheffield, Rotherham, Hull, Newcastle, Bradford depending on decisions beyond the IRP core pipeline."

Work on the study of route options to take HS2 to Leeds will be led by Network Rail but no timescales are given.

Images: DFT


Martyn Benson,  November 18, 2021 at 4:01 PM  

You have to wonder if all the 'aggro' and subsequent delay over the proposed location (with additional costs) of the Sheffield HS2 station was one of the factors in the cancellation?

Anonymous,  November 18, 2021 at 5:55 PM  

Once again its okay to let costs run away down south!

Anonymous,  November 18, 2021 at 7:22 PM  

Was never going to happen,thank god!

Dan H November 19, 2021 at 8:19 AM  

Sheffield Council you reap what you sow. Maybe South Yorkshire would still have a mainline station at Meadowhall if they'd not thrown their toys out of the pram.

Anonymous,  November 19, 2021 at 11:40 AM  

Completely agree with you Martyn. HS2 was never really coming to South Yorkshire anyway. Effectively we had been promised a branch line so that Sheffield could have its city centre station. In my view, once the Meadowhall site was rejected, the scheme was always destined to fail.

Given that it was going to be around 30 years before the benefits would have been felt, I don't think it's a huge loss.

jamiewalton November 19, 2021 at 5:36 PM  

The entire scheme is a dud, never mind the Eastern leg that didnt South Yorkshire in any way what so ever.

I'll continue to work from home, have remote meetings and training courses without the hassle and expense of catching a train.

2021 and some daft old farts dressed up as MPs think a train is the answer to levelling up, makes me laugh!

Happy days!

Anonymous,  November 19, 2021 at 5:45 PM  

Just try an imagine if the "starting" position or 1st Phase of HS2
wasn't from London to Brimingham and was from the North and
heading South...
Well I did say try. Lol.

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