Alongside Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, I am launching a campaign to reopen railway stations along the Sheaf Valley line. We are bidding the Government’s Restoring Your Railways Ideas Fund, calling for Millhouses and Heeley stations to be reopened, for Dore & Totley’s station to be expanded and improved, and for a new station to be opened at Totley Brook.
Before the Beeching cuts there were stations along the Sheaf Valley serving the Hope Valley line, including stations at Beauchief, Millhouses & Ecclesall, and Heeley; and Dore & Totley station used to be a four-platform station whereas today it is only running a single track.
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 tells us 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.
The climate emergency is the biggest challenge that we all face, and to address it we will need radical changes to our economy and society. We need a modal shift from private to public transport.
This isn’t something that can happen overnight. Encouraging more people to use public transport will require increasing both the quality and the possibility of public transportation. We need to rebuild our country’s fragmented railways and improve connectivity where it is needed, so that more people can access sustainable modes of travel. This means investment is needed in greener infrastructure.
Compared to the UK’s other large cities, one thing Sheffield lacks is an adequate suburban rail network to serve commuters and travellers to the city centre and beyond. We know that addressing the climate crisis will require scaling up our low-carbon infrastructure, and there’s something apt about retrofitting and reusing old railway stations to meet the challenges of the future.
These stations would serve both my and Louise’s constituencies, and be of great benefit to the city as a whole. We plan to bid to the Ideas Fund to reopen at least Millhouses and Heeley stations, preferably as heavily rail, although we are open to exploring whether this service is served by heavy rail or by tram-train (which could integrate into new or existing tram lines).