Wide ranging improvements to rail services are being lined up for Doncaster and its communities following the launch of a new Integrated Rail Plan by the Sheffield City Region.
Hatfield and Stainforth train station. One of the local stations set to benefit from much needed improvements.
The plan, which has been welcomed by the Department for Transport, was produced by Sheffield City Region and its local authority partners, supported by organisations including TfN and HS2 Ltd. It sets out a vision for how the region will be better connected by both high speed and conventional rail networks into the future - regionally, across the North, and nationally.
Key elements of the plan include:
⦁ A new East Coast Main Line station at Doncaster Sheffield Airport
⦁ The extension of Tram-Train services to Doncaster and Doncaster Sheffield Airport
⦁ A multi-million pound investment at local community stations across the borough
⦁ Faster and/or more frequent services to London, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Hull and Lincoln
⦁ The potential development of new stops and stations at Askern and in the south of the borough
⦁ A new Dearne Valley Station, including the development of a road bypass at Marr and Hickleton to relieve traffic congestion and improve air quality in the villages
Speaking about the launch, Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said:
”This is a landmark moment for our region. For the first time, Government, regional partners and our local authorities have come together to back a vision for the future of our rail services, creating a Plan that will revolutionise rail travel for our communities.”
Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said:
“Doncaster is a historic railway town and rail connectivity remains central to our economic, social and environmental ambitions. We already have an excellent network of railway lines, but some services need enhancing and many of our local stations are desperately in need of improvement. This ambitious plan sets out a strong vision for rail services in our region, which will bring new investment and opportunities to communities right across Doncaster.”
The Integrated Rail Plan draws on emerging proposals for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), a £39bn programme to transform rail connectivity in the North of England that was submitted to the Government in February. Doncaster is a key station in the NPR submission, which would see the town benefit from improved east-west links between Manchester, Sheffield and Hull.
A flagship scheme in the Integrated Rail Plan is a new East Coast Main Line station at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, which would further enhance access to the airport and its associated employment sites. The plan also aims to integrate tram-train services at the airport station, providing local and regional rail links to the airport.
Under the proposals, Conisbrough and Mexborough could benefit from the introduction of tram-train services, offering new destinations in Sheffield and Rotherham, as well as Doncaster Sheffield Airport. As part of the proposal to extend tram-train services, the potential for new stops in the south of the borough around Lakeside, Bessacarr and Bawtry will also be explored. A new station at the airport could enable direct rail services from community stations across Doncaster.
In June, the Sheffield City Region submitted its draft business case for the Transforming Cities Fund, which includes millions of pounds of new investment to improve access to stations at Adwick, Bentley, Conisbrough, Kirk Sandall, Hatfield & Stainforth, Mexborough and Thorne.
Mayor Jones continued:
“We are already delivering outstanding economic growth and job creation but it is essential that every community in Doncaster can benefit from those opportunities.
“By developing a new station at Doncaster Sheffield Airport and investing in local stations, we will support passenger growth and, vitally, ensure local people can access employment being created around the airport. A new airport station would be transformative and could provide direct services to the airport from communities in the north, east and west of the borough, as well as towns and cities across the region and nationally.”
Rail has been a controversial issue in South Yorkshire since the announcement in 2016 that the route of HS2 was to change, significantly impacting residents, communities and the environment in the west of Doncaster.
Speaking about HS2, Mayor Ros Jones said:
“Everyone knows Doncaster Council’s position on HS2 and I want to be clear that has not altered. We believe the original Meadowhall route was the right option and that the Government should revisit alternatives to the M18 route.
“I want the HS2 route to change although I do recognise that the region needs to prepare for HS2 if the Government chooses to go ahead with its preferred route. We await a final decision from Government and Parliament about the future of HS2. In the meantime we will continue pressing HS2 Ltd to minimise the impact on our residents and communities, if Phase 2B does go ahead as currently planned."
The Integrated Rail Plan sets out a joint preference for a new Dearne Valley railway station on the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, rather than a Parkway station on the HS2 mainline in South Yorkshire. However, that support is dependent on surrounding road infrastructure being upgraded as part of the package for the new station. Work has already begun on building the business case for a bypass on the A635, taking traffic out of the congested villages of Hickleton and Marr.
Speaking about the proposal for a new Dearne Valley Station, Mayor Jarvis said:
“A new station in the Dearne Valley, on the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, will offer potentially transformational regeneration opportunities for that area. I will be working closely with the Secretary of State to ensure that sits alongside essential investment in the surrounding road network, especially at the pinch point around Hickleton and Marr.”
The Sheffield City Region Integrated Rail Plan will be considered by the Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority at its meeting on 29th July.