What are the project’s objectives?
Quite simply Stocksbridge is served by a single line which typically is used by one return steel freight journey a day. Our aim is to put passengers trains on it. With increased traffic congestion, the need to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases and the fact it reduces journey times, it is a resource we should use.
Who supports Don Valley Railway?
Sheffield City Council have worked with us to include Don Valley Railway in the Local Development Process including safeguarding station sites. They have contributed funding towards our Feasibility Study, and in the past donated office space to the project. Their continued support is very welcome.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive have offered significant expertise towards the development of the project and also contributed funding towards the Feasibility Study in 2010 and continue to support us. They consult with us on transport development in the area and continue to offer significant expertise and support for the project.
Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis is supportive of the project. Sheffield City Region have included the Don Valley Line in its recent Rail Reinstatement Study, which has been developable via the Government’s Restoring Your Rail initiative.
Stocksbridge Town Council are keen to get the railway opened and they have given full support to the project.
Network Rail have worked with us to deliver the Feasibility Study and have assisted in researching the project. They support the development of station sites.
Stocksbridge Businesses Businessman Mark Dransfield is supportive of the project and supports the work to intiate the Rail Project by use of his office space, and in Chairing and fronting up the Towns Fund Initiative is bringing in expertise in project development and resourses. Liberty Steel are custodians of the line and operate it between Stocksbridge and Deepcar for freight. They support the project and have given their in-principle support for operating services over the lines that they operate. They have helped with research for the feasibility study and operational issues. STEP and smaller businesses have supported us too.
The Government With their Restoring Your Railway Initiative they are offering an opportunity to bring things forward.
Andrew Jones (Former Rail Minister) visited Stocksbridge to advise us on progressing the project
Chris Heaton-Harris MP Current Rail Minister has given his support to our bid.
Miriam Cates MP for Stocksbridge and Penistone has given made this a spearhead of her job to represent the area and given Don Valley Railway a mention in her maiden speech to parliament.
The people of Stocksbridge and the Upper Don Valley have provided ongoing and much welcomed support. We have 100 members, 300 supporters and a petition with 2000 names – mainly local. We are currently in the process of re-engaging with our membership, so keep your ears open.
The Re-open Woodhead Group wish to open the line all the way to Manchester, and fully support our efforts which assist them in their aims.
What did the feasibility study find?
In 2010 Don Valley Railway (DVR) commissioned a feasibility study, with financial support from South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) and Sheffield City Council (SCC), to assess the practicality of the project. It found that the project was feasible. It assessed the cost of infrastructure for introducing an initial non-stop half-hourly shuttle using one Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) train between Stocksbridge/Deepcar and Sheffield (Victoria) on a single track would be £4.3m. These costs cover:
- 2 Simple Station platforms
- Upgrade of track to 60mph operation for passenger services
- Minor signalling costs
A half hourly service (with a different structure to the one DVR proposed) was estimated to generate £900,000 per annum in 2006. Our study found costs of £1.4m per annum to operate our service using the National Rail Model with a franchised operation. This gives a per head subsidy less than the SYPTE average for its supported rail network, however, it will not meet a business case for development under the National Rail model. Read more about the feasibility study here.
The study process will look at this option and compare it with other options for development.
What is happening over the coming months
Chris Bell, Don Valley Railway’s lead is chairing the Infrastructure Sub-Group of the Towns Fund Board that will be majoring on delivering rail aspirations for the town.
- On 28 February 2020 Our Expression of Interest was submitted
- On 9 March 2020 an endorsement of the Towns Fund Board will be given to the Detailed Bid by Sheffield City Region to the Restoring Your Railway Initiative.
- On 16 March 2020 The bid is to be submitted
- A presentation by backers will be made to Government late March 2020
- April 2020 a decision may be available as to if our plans progress to be developed further and funding made available.
- A further round of bidding is planned for June 2020.
Beyond this we are looking forward to the line being built.
Where can we expect stations to be located?
As part of the study process an analysis of the optimum station stop locations and stopping patterns will be undertaken. Stocksbridge has to be a prime generator of traffic, but former station sites at Deepcar, Oughtibridge and Wadsley Bridge will probably be considered alongside other locations that may prove to be more practical. It is considered that the former Sheffield Victoria site may be the best location for central Sheffield but extending through to Nunnery to connect with the Tram network is likely to be investigated. Too many stops can have an adverse effect on journey times for longer journeys.
The location of stops may be inter-dependent on the service offered. Later extensions to Penistone and east towards the Advanced Manufacturing Park and beyond may be considered.
Is the railway a heritage railway with Steam Trains?
Our current plans are for a modern 21st century railway. If a steam train or heritage diesel tour wishes to visit the Don Valley Line bringing visitors that will be welcomed.
Has the Business Plan looked at options for delivery?
Don Valley Railway produced a Study Brief in 2015. This considered 4 options between Stocksbridge and Sheffield
- An extension to the yellow route tram to Stocksbridge
- A Tram-Train between Stocksbridge and Sheffield linking into the existing Tram network
- An equivalent heavy rail service on the line, and,
- A very simplified shuttle service with terminals at Victoria and Deepcar at minimum cost.
Now it looks like the two non-tram options will be taken forward for further study alongside other options.