I’ve long campaigned for improvements to Sheffield’s rail links with other northern cities, and for the electrification of the midland mainline, and was deeply disappointed by the Government plans to slash planned spending on northern rail infrastructure.
Transforming rail connectivity between the golden triangle of Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester is key to building the northern economy and rebalancing the UK’s overdependence on the south-east. Fast and regular rail links between our three cities would create an economic hub to rival London, but we’ve been let down again.
After all the big promises of investment in the north, we’ve lost the extra capacity of HS2 and the improved connection it would have provided with Leeds. There are no significant enhancements to the Manchester route, which comes on top of the recent decision to scrap the direct link with Manchester Airport.
Delivering electrification to the midland mainline between Sheffield and London would be welcome, but it has been promised twice before – and then quietly dropped. It confirms again that all Boris Johnson’s bluster about levelling up is just empty words.
Scrapping the Yorkshire leg of HS2 is a major let down for the north but, looking at the immediate challenges we face, the extension of Supertram to both our hospitals will make a huge improvement to travel in the city and bringing buses into public control through franchising gives us the chance to transform services. Together it would enable us to give people the public transport services they want, reduce congestion, and cut damaging emissions.
Despite this week’s announcements, we need to continue pressing for the investment in our rail links with Manchester and Leeds to slash journey times, increase service frequency and enable our three cities to create an economic hub that can compete with London and the south-east.
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