Chamber Transport and Infrastructure Forum Update – May 2016

Peter Kennan, Transport and Infrastructure Forum Chair, comments:

“We have been doing a lot of work at SCCITF in the past couple of years on strategic issues. We have covered:

“Rail upgrades, particularly SCR to Manchester CR and SCR to Leeds CR. This includes all towns and cities in SCR and not just Sheffield, although the Doncaster to Leeds rail service is, of course, already excellent.

“HS2 (of course), where I am fully aware that there remain, at the present time, differences of opinion on the SCR station location. Irrespective of the final route this project is important from a perspective of future London – Birmingham – SCR – Leeds and Newcastle/Edinburgh links and we are totally committed to it and to a station in SCR.

“HS3: the focus on this, rather than getting investment into the classic network is troubling. Upgrading the Hope Valley Line is of much more immediate importance for SCR than HS3 and yet that is stalled and Network Rail’s plans are hopelessly unambitious on the upgrade. SCCITF have lodged a formal objection to the Public Enquiry about the lack of ambition.

“The attitude of the PTE’s towards subsidising local commuter rail flows has soaked up SCR rail capacity leaving little capacity for inter urban upgrades between city regions.

“We are in the process of engaging with SCR LEP representatives in relation to the link into TftN and Rail North. Strategic rail decisions will be taken there and the course of a lot of the above will be driven by their thought processes.

“TftN’s lack of control over most Northern England rail franchises is highly problematic. For example Sheffield to Leeds fast trains are operated by Cross Country Trains. The granting of new franchises on TPE and Northern Rail before TftN developed its plans and acquired statutory powers is equally problematic. We do not have a satisfactory pattern of services in SCR, under the new franchises.

“Road schemes: DSA FARRRS – fantastic. We fully support DSA but also recognise the importance of MAN in the Northern Powerhouse because of its inter-continental flight credentials. We are anxious about the Trans Pennine tunnel and consider the study money could be better spent on present upgrades to connect SCR with MAN and indeed Manchester itself.

“We have a major concern about Tinsley flyover and its impact on strangling SCR development and also Jcns 33/34 M1 which need further upgrades. The roads connecting towns and cities in SCR are poor compared to most other regions and have been neglected. DSA needs to be really 30 minutes from Sheffield City Centre. It is still aspirational only, except at very off peak times.”