The tram-train pilot due to arrive in 2017 will be... late

From: A Oldfield, Secretary, Huddersfield, Penistone & Sheffield Rail Users’ Association, Worrall, Sheffield.

THE coalition Government keeps reminding us of the need for more austerity measures, though they do not apply universally. This the Deputy Prime Minister confirmed with his announcement for the go-ahead of the South Yorkshire tram-
train pilot, subject to yet further delay.

The latest revised timetable quotes 2017 as the launch year, meaning an arrival nine years on from the original Penistone Line proposal and subsequent withdrawal owing to not having been thought through. If the concept is the all-dancing, all-singing solution that some people claim, why is it taking so long?

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How can you equate persisting with it when it has not turned a single wheel and at the same time make fresh calls for further austerity? Is it blighting all in South Yorkshire?

Rotherham, as we all know, has endured a wretched year for reasons that have been well documented. It still desperately needs aid to help with regeneration and recovery. Could not rail investment assist in this process?

This should embrace maximum track quadrupling along the Swinton-Dore corridor, identified by Railtrack in 1998 as a major bottleneck, and it must also include Holmes Chord track doubling to liberate Rotherham, enabling it to enjoy fast trains to Doncaster and Leeds as well as figuring in the Manchester Airport link.

Because it has so much ground to recover on its rival cities, Sheffield requires its own version of the Northern Hub, not only for itself, but also for the benefit of the whole of South Yorkshire. Furthermore, Sheffield must grasp every opportunity from Midland Main Line electrification, the biggest rail project in the city for 60 years, by the creation of a local Sheffield- Chesterfield electrified service serving new stations along the Sheaf Valley, which should be the catalyst for the electrification of the entire South Yorkshire rail network and all links with West Yorkshire.

Sheffield must also take a 
lead on HS3, because its only chance of regaining Trans-Pennine electrification is by a reopened Woodhead line. Woodhead was once the future, and it still is.

Sheffield’s rail voice is like the electric trains that it requires, largely silent, while the lesser populated Cardiff Valleys and Windermere have secured electrification approval. England’s fourth largest city wants a rail deal, not a raw deal.