Tuesday, September 6, 2022

News: Rotherham waits in the sidings for mainline station funding


£8m in funding denied by the Government for a new Rotherham mainline could still come down the line before 2027.

Rothbiz revealed last month that the Government confirmed that it will not allow the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) to use £8m from its City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) for the project.

Instead, the SYMCA is being allowed to only spend up to £1m from the pot between now and 2027 to "develop the Outline Business Case (OBC) for an integrated mainline and tram-train station" with a letter from Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport not explaining the decison other than there being a "need to ensure integration with national networks."

The mainline station is being put on a list of reserve projects.

A site at Parkgate is the frontrunner for a £30m regeneration project described by experts as "a relatively straightforward scheme for delivery within three to four years."

Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said that the government's decision, "makes no sense economically or environmentally."

As it stands, any work is delayed until 2027 at the earliest but SYMCA says that the £8m has not been lost and sets out the Government's reasons for holding back the cash.

In progressing the £570m settlement, the Department for Transport (DfT) and HM Treasury identified schemes that they wanted to discuss in further detail.

SYMCA reports show that on the £8m for a mainline station in Rotherham: "DfT requested a reduction in this allocation to £1m to deliver the Outline Business Case only. This reduction was based on uncertainties regarding the timing of the full station scheme that emerged following the publication of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan and the ongoing HS2 Leeds Area Study."

When the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands (IRP) was published by the Government 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.

SYMCA, in agreement with Rotherham Council continued to ask DfT that the allocation for Rotherham Mainline Station remain at £8m due to the importance of the scheme to the region. This request was discussed with DfT, however they maintained their position.

The report adds: "The full allocation for Rotherham Mainline Station has not been lost, as DfT have asked SYMCA to elevate £7m of activity from the over-programming list. In addition, DfT have agreed that the Rotherham Mainline Station scheme can go into the over-programming list. This approach provides South Yorkshire with options, as the schemes proposed for escalation from the over-programming list do not require commitment until after the Rotherham Mainline OBC has been completed and the Leeds Area Study outcome known. At this time, if appropriate, a request to reinstate the full allocation can be submitted to DfT."

To be spent between now and 2027, the CRSTS consolidates funding from previous allocations of the Highways Maintenance Block, Potholes Fund and Integrated Transport Block.

There is some "over-programming" to reflect the fact that not all schemes can necessarily be delivered as planned.

As well as £8m from the CRSTS, £10m has been earmarked to support the mainline station as part of Rotherham Council’s successful £31.6m award from the Towns Fund.

Studies into taking HS2 services to Leeds, which could benefit Rotherham, are expected this month.

Images: DfT


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