Public right of way planned amid station row

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COUNCIL chiefs in Sheffield are drawing up plans to create a public right of way through the city’s railway station, which would open the footbridge over the line to pedestrians 24 hours a day.

The move comes amid a long-running row with Network Rail and East Midlands Trains over installing ticket barriers which would close the existing footbridge to non-railway passengers.

The train companies say barriers would prevent fare dodging, which currently costs £2.3m a year. However, the council says the footbridge is an “important and well-used pedestrian link” and, as a result, is set to put proposals for applying for a public right of way to the authority’s planning committee on Monday.

A report says: “Formalising public access through Sheffield station would ensure that pedestrians would not be restricted from using the existing high quality link across the station footbridge.

“Network Rail have advised that, due to their concerns about the effect that 24-hour unrestricted access would have on station, train and rail safety, as well as other concerns shared with railway partners, they would oppose the creation of a public right of way.”

Councillors have been advised to approve seeking such an order, which would need to be agreed by the Secretary of State and could incur substantial legal costs.