Stalled plans for a £300m parkway station as part of the HS2 route through South Yorkshire look set to be scrapped entirely after proposals were unveiled for a separate facility as part of the high-speed Northern Powerhouse Rail project.
The Integrated Rail Plan published today by Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis lays out a preference for a new Barnsley Dearne Valley railway station on a site in Goldthorpe as part of the proposed network to improve connections between the great cities of the North.
But the blueprint, produced with the support of strategic body Transport for the North and backed by the company responsible for delivering HS2, says this would be at the expense of a parkway station on the mainline route.
The proposed parkway station was announced in 2016 when HS2 announced that it was to divert a key section of the route through previously unaffected homes, businesses and farmland in South Yorkshire, with a spur into Sheffield city centre.
But The Yorkshire Post reported last year that the proposal faced being shunted into the sidings due to a lack of progress on where it should be.
Mr Jarvis said today that support for a Barnsley Dearne Valley station was dependent on surrounding road infrastructure being upgraded and that work had started on building the business case for a bypass on the A635, taking traffic out of the congested villages of Hickleton and Marr.
Other elements of the plan include the creation of a new Midland Main Line station in Rotherham; an East Coast Main Line railway station at Doncaster Sheffield Airport; extension of the tram-train serving Rotherham and Sheffield, the upgrade of the Hope Valley Line; and significant upgrades of the railway stations at both Sheffield and Chesterfield, to accommodate HS2 services.
The document will now be considered as part of any government spending review and as part of the proposal for the £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme, which is currently being looked at by the Department for Transport.
Mr Jarvis said: “This is a landmark moment for our region. For the first time, Government, regional partners and our local authorities have come together to welcome a vision for the future of our rail services, creating a plan that will revolutionise rail travel for our communities.
“But although individual pieces of infrastructure are undoubtedly important; the most important feature of this plan is that it ties together separate projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail into one cohesive whole, enabling people to travel within our region, across the North and nationally in a simple and efficient way.”
Mark Thurston, HS2 Ltd’s CEO said: “We welcome the proposals outlined by Sheffield City Region. Plans for local road and rail investment will ensure that when HS2 arrives, communities and businesses across the region will be well placed to benefit from more and better connected rail services to the North, Midlands and the South, allowing the region to fully realise its economic potential.”
Separately, Chris Grayling has admitted he has not been bold enough in his attempts to improve the rail network. The Transport Secretary told MPs he was wary about imposing “too much change” when he became Transport Secretary in July 2016, but has since realised “it’s revolution that’s needed”.