City business bosses have called for major improvements to ‘woeful’ rail services between Sheffield and Leeds.
The Sheffield Chamber of Commerce has written to the Government asking for a new fast service between the two cities that would run three times an hour.
The idea is one of the key demands the group’s transport forum has made in its response to an open consultation on the future of the Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises, which are due for renewal in February 2016.
Peter Kennan, vice-chair of the Transport Forum, said: “Our connection with Leeds has easily the largest flow, but the service is woeful. We are recommending that this issue can be addressed with a three-train-an-hour fast service between the two Yorkshire cities, calling at Meadowhall and Wakefield only.”
It comes as members of union RMT collected signatures outside Sheffield Railway Station as part of a protest about the consultation, which is running until next Monday.
The union says it is concerned that the Government proposals for how the franchise will operate will mean job cuts for staff and higher ticket prices for passengers. The Sheffield event was one of dozens arranged by the RMT across northern England.
Other ideas being put forward by the Chamber of Commerce in its response to the consultation include better links to Manchester Airport and Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield and a regular cross city link from Dore to Meadowhall.
Mr Kennan said: “The new Ikea development at Meadowhall will drive further rail demand to this part of the city. There is already a major problem with the road network in the area and so this should be factored in to service levels provided by Northern Rail.
“Road congestion is acute in Sheffield which suffers from a legacy of decades of under-investment in infrastructure. This is likely to drive continued increases in demand for rail services.
“Therefore, once current works are completed at Dore station, we would like to see certain Northern Rail services starting there, something that may be made possible by upgrades that are already planned. This would enable a cross city service from Dore via Sheffield to Meadowhall to be offered on trains heading to Barnsley, Leeds, Doncaster and beyond. All these developments will enable Sheffield to utilise the rail network to improve connectivity in an efficient manner, driving growth and improving access to key locations.”