Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis has said he will not allow passengers to be “treated like second-class citizens” over the delayed upgrades to the Sheffield to Manchester Hope Valley rail line.
Work to speed up journey times was due to be completed by 2022 but earlier this month it was revealed this would not happen until 2023.
Mr Jarvis has met with Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris and Network Rail to keep up the pressure and discuss what more could be done.
The upgrade, which was announced in 2018, would have allowed passenger trains to bypass slow-moving freight trains, which would cut journey times from 50 to 40 minutes.
Mr Jarvis said: “I’m not prepared to allow the residents that I represent to be treated like second-class citizens.
“That’s why I held an urgent meeting with the Rail Minister and with Network Rail to see what more can be done, both by the Department for Transport and Network Rail, to carry out the much-needed improvements works on the Hope Valley line.
“There are a number of options that are open to Network Rail that would help to deliver these upgrade works, that connect 4.2m people between Sheffield and Greater Manchester. I have asked Network Rail to explore all options to deliver these works and to identify what other improvements could be carried out at the same time as the upgrade works.
“Passengers in South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester have been forced to endure endless delays, cancellations and unreliable services for far too long. I’m calling on Network Rail to bring real pace and urgency to the Hope Valley line upgrade works.”
A Network Rail spokesman previously said: “We are reviewing the original plans for the Hope Valley line and expect to put the contract out to tender in the next few weeks.
“The chosen contractor, once approved by the Department for Transport, should be announced by autumn 2020. Construction is expected to start in 2022 and complete by 2023.”
Network Rail said the scheme was being reviewed to make sure it “meets current railway standards”.