England’s new Derbyshire and South Yorkshire rail link moves closer
It could soon be all aboard a long-campaigned for rail service connecting the market town of Chesterfield in North East Derbyshire, with the city of Sheffield in South Yorkshire. The Barrow Hill Line, which is still in use as a lightly trafficked freight route, could see funding from the abandoned HS2 project diverted into making the dream of a modern passenger service a reality.
The Barrow Hill Line takes a characteristically crooked route out of Chesterfield to serve several southeastern neighbourhoods in Sheffield. The revival of the line is on the cards as part of a UK government initiative, the “Levelling Up” plan to foster economic development in the regions outwith London and the South East. The project now has the very real prospect of inheriting funds from the cancelled HS2 high-speed rail project. Campaigners are keen that the line would serve the site of the former Victoria station in central Sheffield, and may even be extended along an existing but neglected freight line into the northwest extremities of the city, reconnecting far-flung outlying neighbourhoods to the rail network.
Upgrading existing double-track
In a resounding victory for campaigners and commuters alike, the Barrow Hill Line between Chesterfield and Sheffield is set to make a triumphant return to the railway map, promising improved connectivity and a nod to historical significance. The ambitious project, officially confirmed by the government, has been met with enthusiasm, marking a significant step towards revitalising the regional rail infrastructure, and bringing a much-needed economic lifeline to economically underperforming communities along its approximately ten miles (16km) length.
The revival of the Barrow Hill Line celebrated as a “huge success” by local leaders, comes as a result of concerted efforts to enhance rail connectivity and address transportation needs in the area. The line is an existing double-track formation and signalled for passenger diversionary services. It is principally used as a freight line at the moment. The introduction of these new local services would link existing communities along the locally designated growth corridor. It would also serve a number of potential future development allocations within the city of Sheffield.
The principal promoter of the scheme is the locally elected member of parliament Lee Rowley, who represents the North East Derbyshire constituency, through which the line meanders. “The re-opening of the Barrow Hill line to passenger traffic will give long-term, guaranteed access to public transport in the north of the constituency. This is a huge win for North East Derbyshire”, said Rowley. We are really starting to see all of the work pay off. We don’t yet know exactly what stations will be covered, and it may not be possible to do everything that we want immediately, but this is brilliant for the residents who supported our campaign over so long.” Rowley has recently been reappointed to the government position of Housing Minister – a portfolio which will potentially complement the Barrow Hill reopening.
Among the project’s highlights is the anticipated restitution of a service to the site of Sheffield Victoria station, in the city’s central Wicker district. There are ambitious proposals to extend the Barrow Hill Line further into Sheffield’s outskirts. The outlying northwestern suburb of Stocksbridge, where dormant tracks still carry very occasional traffic to a steelworks in the community. That extension would also inject much-needed economic vitality into that quarter of the city and, for the nostalgic, make part of the “Woodhead Route” between Yorkshire and Manchester active for the first time since 1970.