MPs Olivia Blake and Louise Haigh have today launched a bid to restore full passenger services along the Sheaf Valley, by reopening the railway stations at Heeley and Millhouses and expanding and improving Dore & Totley station.
The Labour MPs for Sheffield Hallam and Heeley are bidding to the UK Government’s Restoring Your Railways Ideas Fund, a £500m fund to re-open closed services.
Sheffield’s suburbs are today served by only a handful of local stations, such as Dore & Totley, Chapeltown and Darnall. But before the Beeching cuts, there was a much bigger railway network in the city.
For nearly a century between the 1870s and the 1960s, there were stations along the Sheaf Valley at Heeley, Millhouses and Beauchief, and a larger four-platform station at Dore & Totley, which is now runs a single track. Policy-makers in the 1960s believed that railways would be replaced by cars, and chose to drastically shrink Britain’s rail network. But today’s challenges mean that rail travel is once again a priority.
Speaking on the launch of the bid, Olivia Blake, the Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, said:
“To address the climate crisis we need many more people to be able to use public transport. This means we need to increase both the quality and availability of public transport networks in constituencies like ours where they are lacking.
“Restoring railway stations in the Sheaf Valley would transform links from South and South West Sheffield to the city centre and Manchester, with new stations at Millhouses and Heeley and improved capacity at Dore & Totley.
“Thousands of people would have a greener way to travel, greatly reducing congestion on busy routes like Abbeydale and Ecclesall Road.”
Transport is now the largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the UK, and the vast majority of these emissions come from passenger cars. The UK is overly reliant on costly and emissions-intensive private modes of transport. Research from the Department for Transport shows that the majority of journeys and overall kilometres travelled are made by car, the majority of people commute to work by car or van, and even that 78% of goods are moved by road, compared to only 9% by rail and 13% by water.
It is hoped that by investing in greener infrastructure like Sheffield’s railway network and allowing more people access to more sustainable modes of travel, there can be a modal shift from private to public transport in line with Sheffield’s ambition to go zero carbon by 2030.
The stations proposed for reopening would serve constituents of both Sheffield Hallam and Heeley, but the benefits would be shared across the city as a whole and further afield.
Louise Haigh said:
“South and South West Sheffield were once well-served by rail and tram networks, but short-sighted decisions in the 1960s closed these down in favour of road traffic.
“My constituents are desperate for better public transport to cut traffic congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
“As we come out of the coronavirus lock-down, we need initiatives like this to ensure our roads stay quiet and pollution stays down.”
The MPs will publish a further update on how people can support the campaign.