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Transport: North of England

Question for Department for Transport

UIN 126719, tabled on 5 February 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to improve transport links between Sheffield and Manchester.

Answered on

12 February 2018

A number of schemes are being developed to improve transport links between Sheffield and Manchester.

The Department is working with Transport for the North (TfN) on some highway options. The Strategic Study into the possible development of a more direct highway route between Greater Manchester and Sheffield City Region has so far determined that while a long tunnel beneath the Pennines is technically feasible, the cost is prohibitive and represents poor value for money. TfN has carried out some additional work which suggests that a shorter tunnel beneath the most environmentally sensitive areas, combined with wider transport connectivity enhancements, could help to overcome these issues and provide enhanced access to the Peak District National Park. Further work has been commissioned jointly by TfN and the Department to explore this option in more detail, and is currently expected to report late this year or early in 2019.

In addition, the Government’s Road Investment Strategy sets out a package of measures to improve the route between Sheffield and Manchester. Highways England held a public consultation on the proposals in Spring 2017 and announced the preferred route for the Mottram Moor and A57(T) to A57 Link Roads in November 2017. There will be a further public consultation on the details of this scheme in 2018 and construction is expected to start in 2020, subject to securing the necessary planning approvals. Other elements announced which are not subject to the DCO process include safety and technology improvements along the A628, including localised safety measures, additional advance warning signs to enable drivers to make more informed decisions regarding their journey and possible automation of the closure gates. There are also improvements to the Westwood (A61/A616) Roundabout in Tankersley to reduce congestion and improve traffic flows.

As part of their Northern Hub capacity enhancements, Network Rail have proposed works at the eastern end of the Hope Valley line. A passing loop would be provided east of Bamford, and the line would be re-doubled at Dore and Totley station. This scheme would increase track capacity to allow a more frequent service between Sheffield and Manchester, improve accessibility by sustainable transport to the Peak District National Park and support better integration with freight services. A Transport and Works Act application for this scheme has been submitted to the Department.