MPs bid to reopen former industrial railway line to passengers

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The restoration of a train service from Shireoaks into Doncaster has been announced as one of 50 bids across England and Wales to build or reopen unused lines and stations.

Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris says the scheme may lead to a boost in access to jobs and education, where lines were closed in the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.

The South Yorkshire Joint Railway was opened to freight trains in 1909, and served mines and steelworks around Rotherham and Doncaster.

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Although passenger trains were withdrawn from the line in 1929, the 30-mile route is still in use to this day for goods traffic.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-HarrisRail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris

The line connects to several other lines, and runs from Kirk Sandall, near Doncaster, to Shireoaks, near Worksop.

To attempt to combat ‘transport deserts’ in his constituency, Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford has submitted a bid to reopen the three stations on the line - Dinnington and Laughton, Maltby and Tickhill, and Wadworth.

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Although the line was not closed at part of the Beeching cuts, Mr Stafford belives there is strong case to reopen the line to passengers and bring investment to Maltby and Dinnington.

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He says he has been backed by the public on his bid, which would see the line receive a slice of the £500m Restoring Railways fund announced by Mr Heaton-Harris.

Mr Stafford said: “The support has been overwhelming. I started campaigning for this during the election, and there is clearly a need for better transport in the area. Our public transport is not for for purpose.

“The line is right in the heart of our constituency, and will really connect our biggest town, Maltby. It would give the area a lift, and help get people into work.

“Although this line was not closed in the Beeching cuts, in my view, if there is a pot of money out there then this line is ready to go. It would be revolutionary, and the business case to open it is good.

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“There would be infinite possibilities if this line were to open. It is a big investment, but Maltby and Dinnington have been left behind, and it would open up business, retail and leisure opportunities.

“It's important to fight for money and resources for the area. It ties in with a low carbon future, and would be a win-win.”

Although the original SYJR ran to Kirk Sandall, within this proposal there is no intention to extend services to that full length as existing routes already serve Kirk Sandall, and traffic on many lines around South Yorkshire are near capacity.

The bid has been submitted, and proposals will now be considered by an expert panel including Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy, with announcements regarding the successful schemes expected by the end of the summer.

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Mr Heaton-Harris said: "Local MPs, councillors and community leaders are the greatest champions of their local lines, and I look forward to working with them to ensure the projects with the greatest potential have the support they need.

“Improving local transport links is vital as we level up access to opportunities across the country, reconnect communities and kickstart our recovery from Covid-19.”

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