Sheffield Chamber of Commerce’s Transport Forum has outlined a number of key priorities the region needs to focus on to improve rail links across the north of England.
The objectives are part of the open consultation around the future of Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises, which are due for renewal in February 2016.
Key rail proposals the forum would like to see include, better links to Manchester Airport and Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield, a regular cross city link from Dore to Meadowhall, improvement to Sheffield to Leeds rail connections and better access to Manchester from Sheffield.
Peter Kennan, vice-chair of the Transport Forum and partner at Chartered Accountants Hawsons, said:
“A focus on serving Manchester Airport is justified, with a need to create a 24-hour connection from Sheffield. However, there is also a requirement to focus on Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) which is this region’s gateway to international destinations.
“The airport is not currently well-served and its future development must require rail connection with a specific train service.
“We strongly recommend this is included in the Northern Rail obligations when airport passenger numbers reach a certain trigger point. A Doncaster to DSA service could also be justified, especially if it is served by a park and ride location at the airport.
“Meanwhile, the new IKEA development at Meadowhall will drive further rail demand to this part of the city.
“There is already a major problem with the road network in the area and so this should be factored in to service levels provided by Northern Rail.
“Road congestion is acute in Sheffield which suffers from a legacy of decades of under investment in infrastructure. This is likely to drive continued increases in demand for rail services.
“Therefore, once current works are completed at Dore station, we would like to see certain Northern Rail services starting there, something that may be made possible by upgrades that are already planned.
“This would enable a cross city service from Dore via Sheffield to Meadowhall to be offered on trains heading to Barnsley, Leeds, Doncaster and beyond.
“Our connection with Leeds is easily the largest flow, but the service is woeful.
“We are recommending that this issue can be addressed with a three train an hour fast service between the two Yorkshire cities calling at Meadowhall and Wakefield only.
“All these developments will enable Sheffield to utilise the rail network to improve connectivity in an efficient manner, driving growth and improving access to key locations.”
For more information about the consultation visit https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-of-northern-and-transpennine-express-rail-franchises