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Interim rail improvements for the Yorkshire economy

  • Research

Our latest report looks beyond the current industrial disputes and into what we see as an opportunity window: what could and should happen before the Government’s £96bn Integrated Rail Plan is delivered in the 2030s and 2040s.

Sheffield-Leeds, What’s Next explores the key Northern Powerhouse link between Sheffield and Leeds and points to a set of cost-effective interim measures that can be introduced in the 2020s.

Sheffield-Leeds is an Innovation corridor, with a concentration of businesses and research facilities in advanced manufacturing and other spheres. To build on successes to date, expand the economy and grow employment prospects, the cities, towns and ex-mining villages of South and West Yorkshire need to be better inter-connected.

But this is in danger of being a land that time forgot as far as rail improvements are concerned. While rail use in South and West Yorkshire has changed, passenger volumes on some days of the week at Sheffield and Leeds stations now exceed pre-pandemic levels. Network capacity constrains what is achievable. But we have been able to identify a set of measures that should fit within these constraints.

Key Elements In The Action Plan For The 2020s

  • Adding a second hourly fast service between Leeds and Sheffield (and onwards to Nottingham)
  • Extra capacity for stopping services
  • East Midlands Railway London St Pancras-Sheffield services extended to Barnsley, Wakefield Kirkgate, Castleford and York
  • A new station for Rotherham, with fast connections to both Sheffield and Leeds.

The report also outlines new services for Bradford that could help pave the way for longer term plans.

The report highlights introducing LNER Bradford-Leeds-(non-stop)-London Kings Cross services, taking 15 minutes off the standard Leeds-London journey time and avoiding the need for lengthy train ‘layovers’ at the busy Leeds station. . Another initiative requires re-opening a short section of disused section of line, adds a new station (to serve Ossett) and provides a direct Sheffield-Barnsley-Bradford connection that has been long missing.

Greengauge 21 Director and co-author Jim Steer states: “These improvements could come 15-20 years before longer term high-speed plans and help set Yorkshire on the path to a greener transport future.”

“We would urge all parties, including DfT, to come together, consider and implement the plans set out here for improving rail services between South and West Yorkshire.”