On Friday we submitted our bid for funds to restore rail services to the Sheaf Valley to the Department of Transport.

It has been great to see support for the bid grow so much over the past few weeks. The bid is now co-sponsered by Sheffield Heely MP Louise Haigh and Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, and supported by Sheffield City Region Mayor, Dan Jarvis and Sheffield City Council Mayor, Bob Johnson.

The Peak District National Park and Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust have joined Friends of Dore & Totley Station and Heeley Development Trust, in also coming out in support of our bid. 

We are hoping to secure funding from the Government’s £500 million Restoring Your Railway Fund to restore stations at Millhouses, Heeley, and Beauchief, expand Dore & Totley station, and build a new station at Totley Brook. 

Earlier this month we launched a public consultation, asking local residents to share their thoughts on the proposal, to help gauge likely demand levels for these restored railway stations, and strengthen the bid. Already nearly 500 people have shared their views and respondents overwhelmingly support the proposals. If you live near Millhouses, Heeley, Beauchief and Dore & Totley, you can take the survey here.

The bid will now go through a selection process, the results of which will be revealed later this year. If successful, we will receive the funding to work with partners to undertake a feasibility study and write up our “business case”.

This restoration would, I hope, ensure access to more sustainable modes of transport to the people of Sheffield and help rebuild the city’s economy after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

I have spoken to so many people across our city, who are disadvantaged by the poor public transport infrastructure and clogged roads. By bringing rail access back to where people live, I hope to re-address this imbalance, boost rail use post-pandemic, open up new job opportunities in other cities, and make travel to and from work quicker and more efficient.

But this isn’t just about reducing commuter times and rebuilding our economy. If we can reduce car use across the city, we can help reduce emissions, tackle the climate emergency, and improve the health and wellbeing of our city. With air pollution expected to kill over 1400 people in Sheffield over the next decade, and 15,000 in Yorkshire, we have to act now.

I also hope the proposals will also help open up access to nature to more people in Sheffield. The experience of the national lockdown has shown many of us, myself included, just how important access to green space is for our mental health and wellbeing. I know I have valued more than ever taking my dogs for a walk in the beautiful peaks. I believe that as part of Hallam’s recovery from the pandemic, we should be protecting and opening up our green spaces. By building and expanding low carbon transport links in Hallam, making it easier for people across South and South West Sheffield to visit the Peak District, we can open up access to nature for the many. 

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