Journeys are set to be improved for northern passengers thanks to £137m of government investment that will deliver more capacity and improve connectivity between Sheffield and Manchester.
To help meet future demand, the Hope Valley capacity scheme is designed to removed bottlenecks on the line by creating places for fast passenger services to overtake slower moving freight trains, allowing more trains to run and increasing the reliability of services.
Network Rail is now finalising detailed designs that will improve sections of the railway between Bamford station and Jaggers Lane Bridge in Hathersage, and around Dore & Totley station where a second platform will also be added.
Work is expected to begin in 2022 and will be completed in 2023.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “I am delighted to confirm £137m for this scheme to remove bottlenecks on the Hope Valley line, transforming journeys between Sheffield and Manchester – two dynamic Northern Powerhouse cities.
“These important upgrades will make a huge difference to passengers, providing the punctual, reliable services they deserve, as we build back better from COVID-19.”
As part of this project, Network Rail will continue to look at ways to speed up the start of the work, as they have done so in earlier stages by carrying out signalling design work at the same time as the tendering process, as well as liaising with train and freight operating companies to agree any changes to the network that may be required during construction.
Planning for the additional fast service through the Hope Valley scheme is being considered as part of work being carried out by the Manchester Recovery Taskforce (MRTF) which is looking at a range of options over the decade to improve performance in and around Manchester.
Transport for the North has repeatedly made the case for the project on behalf of the region’s civic and business leaders.
David Hoggarth, strategic rail director at Transport for the North, said: “This money will help remove some of the key rail bottlenecks on the line by providing two vital ‘freight passing loops’ and a second line through Dore station. It will mark a major step forward towards being able to provide an additional fast train on this route.
“This line has suffered for years with slower trains holding up faster ones, leading to cancellations, delays and unreliable services for passengers.
“It currently has some of the slowest train speeds on the North’s rail network, meaning people often resort to travelling by car. It’s great news that investment will now go into this vital commuter corridor, whilst longer term upgrades as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail are finalised.”
Transport for the North’s latest statutory advice to government also calls for longer term, significant investment in the Hope Valley corridor as part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail network.
This would eventually speed up journey times and increase frequency. Northern Powerhouse Rail is expected to feature in the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan, anticipated to publish shortly.