The government has committed to investing £137M in the delayed upgrade of the Hope Valley railway between Manchester and Sheffield.
To help meet future demand, the Hope Valley capacity scheme is designed to remove 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.
A Transport & Works Act Order (TWAO) for the scheme, which is seen as a key enabler for the Northern Powerhouse Rail route upgrade, was granted by the Department for Transport (DfT) in February 2018.
At the time, Transport for the North said it was pressing for the release of funds for the detailed design work during 2018/9, with a view to starting on site in April 2019. However since then progress on the scheme has stalled.
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 he is “delighted” to confirm the funding for the scheme, describing Sheffield and Manchester as “two dynamic Northern Powerhouse cities”.
He added: “We are committed to levelling up infrastructure across the North, and 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.”
He said: “I cannot make an announcement about it today, but I can say that ministers are investigating the possibilities to increase the capacity there and I don’t think you will have to wait too long for an answer on that.”