Thursday, March 31, 2022

News: Missing Rotherham off NPR network "runs contrary to the desire to "level up" communities"

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The Government may have sidelined plans for a new mainline station in Rotherham but work is continuing on the ground to keep the project moving forward.

When the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands (IRP) was published last November, it scaled back ambitions for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) with Rotherham and Sheffield missed off the new network. The IRP also showed that the HS2 Phase 2b Eastern leg would no longer reach Leeds and instead included a pledge to look at options on how best to take HS2 services to Leeds.

But with Government cash already earmarked for the scheme, local proponents continue to work up plans for a new station.

The Parkgate area is the front runner and the project could also be tied together with a tram train station.

The South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) worked to get a new NPR station on the mainline at Rotherham included in proposals from sub-national transport body, Transport for the North (TfN). A Barnsley Dearne Valley parkway station too.

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A response to the Government from the SYMCA on the latest plans said: "The interventions that we identified were critical to ‘level up’ South Yorkshire and achieve the wider objectives of our Strategic Economic Plan.

"The fragmentation of HS2 and NPR means that achieving these outcomes is not possible as the IRP stands, putting South Yorkshire at a relative disadvantage when it comes to connectivity with neighbouring cities in the Midlands and North and onward connections further afield, such as the South and South West, Wales and Scotland.

"More importantly, the IRP could increase the disparity between some of the areas within South Yorkshire by omitting our proposals for two new stations in South Yorkshire – in the Dearne Valley to the east of Barnsley and at Rotherham on the mainline.

"Both of these stations would provide access to regional and long-distance rail services to a far greater proportion of the South Yorkshire population, spreading the benefits of the investment and helping to support SYMCA’s economic and housing growth plans. Initial analysis by TfN shows how Barnsley Dearne Valley and Rotherham stations can grow the rail market in South Yorkshire and both provided positive contributions to the NPR business case.

"Indeed, a new station at Rotherham shows a positive revenue case and a high value for money even without the planned NPR and HS2 services. For the IRP not to recognise this clear benefit and seemingly move consideration of this enhancement into a longer-term study of HS2 services to Leeds runs contrary to the desire to ‘level up’ communities.

"The omission also undervalues the complementary investment that devolved funding within South Yorkshire was seeking to align with the proposals. SYMCA included further work on the new mainline station at Rotherham in its recent City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement programme and Rotherham Council is seeking to purchase the required land as part of its agreed Towns Fund programme. Lack of recognition in the IRP of the new station puts this complementary investment, and the overall outcomes envisaged, at some risk."

The Government had already indicated a commitment of £20m through the Towns Fund and City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements (CRSTS) programme to support the development of a new mainline Rotherham station at Parkgate.

In spite of the Government's ommision, Rotherham Council and the private sector led Town Deal board are working on a business case focussing on the benefits of the station and the regeneration opportunities around it.

Consultants LCR have been appointed to work on a station masterplan and the strategic acquisition of land is also being prepared.

Rotherham Council's cabinet has recently granted permission for the authority to acquire, negotiate and use Compulsary Purchase Orders to obtain land to support regeneration. This includes land facilitating the development of a new mainline station where "selected acquisition is required to de-risk the project."

Images: DfT

3 comments:

Rod March 31, 2022 at 2:34 PM  

Parkgate is the WRONG PLACE for a new railway station! Masbrough is the better place: close to the town centre and council offices, away from all the congestion at Parkgate and the old bus depot could provide a park and ride facility... but, hey, it’s Rotherham so logic doesn’t come into it!

Unknown April 1, 2022 at 10:40 AM  

We are in purdah for the Mayoral elections but message me on Linked in if you would like to discuss your thoughts privately. Peter Kennan - SY LEP

Rod April 14, 2022 at 10:34 AM  

Sadly, Mr Kennan, I don’t use LinkedIn.

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