The Department for Transport is to invest to £137 million on the Hope Valley line to deliver more capacity and improve connectivity between Sheffield and Manchester.
The 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.
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.
Announcing the investment, Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “I am delighted to confirm £137 million for this scheme to remove bottlenecks on the Hope Valley line, transforming journeys between Sheffield and Manchester – two dynamic Northern Powerhouse cities.
“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.”
To speed up the start of the work, Network Rail will:
- Carry out signalling design work at the same time as the tendering process;
- Hold discussions with train and freight operating companies about changes to the network that may be needed during construction.
The Manchester Recovery Taskforce, which is looking at a range of options to improve performance in and around Manchester, will include planning for the additional fast service through the Hope Valley scheme as part of its remit.
David Hoggarth, strategic rail director for Transport for the North, commented: “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.”