Sheaf Valley line: plan to reopen Millhouses, Heeley, and Beauchief stations in Sheffield fails in funding bid

Plans to reopen long-closed stations on Sheffield’s Sheaf Valley line have suffered a major setback, but backers have vowed not to give up.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 7:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 7:03 pm
The old railway station in Heeley would reopen, along with stations in Millhouses and Beauchief, as part of plans for new train services on the Sheaf Valley line in Sheffield

Campaigners are seeking to reopen stations at Millhouses, Heeley, and Beauchief, expand Dore & Totley station, and build a new station at Totley Brook to improve train services in Sheffield’s suburbs.

They are having to look elsewhere after failing to secure money in the latest round of the Government’s £500 million Restoring Your Railway Fund scheme to take the proposals forward.

But they are determined not to give up and say they are pursuing other sources of funding to make the plans a reality.

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Labour MPs Olivia Blake, Louise Haigh and Paul Blomfield, who submitted the plans in March, say they were told funding was not being made available despite the plans being ‘suitable in principle’ and a ‘strong case’ being made for restoring services on the line.

Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake said: “I am really disappointed our bid hasn’t been successful this time round - despite the Department informing us we had a strong case for developing the Sheaf Valley.

What happens next with plans for new stations on Sheaf Valley line?

“We are not giving up there - this is just the beginning. We have asked for any further feedback about the bid and we will be looking for different sources of funding in the next couple of months.

“But the Government must step up too and provide proper pots of funding for green, affordable public transport in areas like Sheffield. Sustainable transportation is so important, especially with our net-zero commitments.

“Only by improving our rail networks - including providing the £39bn previously promised for Northern Powerhouse Rail, and supporting transformative projects like ours - will we be able to truly ‘level-up’, reduce life threatening levels of air pollution and tackle the climate and ecological emergency.”

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh said it was ‘encouraging’ that the Government found they had a strong case, while Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said it was ‘disappointing’ the bid had been rejected when it could make a ‘big contribution’ towards improving air quality in the area.

The MPs said they would look at alternative funding sources including the Levelling Up Fund and the Union Connectivity Review Fund.

In a letter to the MPs, transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris wrote: “Our discussion and assessment found that your proposal may be suitable for Restoring Your Railway funding in principle. However, due to the volume of strong applications received in this Ideas Fund round and the limited funding available, we are not able to recommend that your proposal progress to the next stage at this time.”

He said this was the last round of the Ideas Fund for the ‘foreseeable future’ but that the proposal made a ‘good case for future development’ and would be kept under review for potential funding as part of the Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline (RNEP) initiative.

The scheme had the backing of, among others, South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis, Sheffield City Council and The Star.

A grant was last week awarded to develop plans to restore the Don Valley line between Sheffield city centre and Stocksbridge, while the proposed new Barrow Hill line to Chesterfield, stopping at Darnall, the Advanced Manufacturing Park, Woodhouse and other new stations, also previously secured funding.