Plans to create a mainline railway station at Doncaster Sheffield Airport could be completed within five years - and could help bring in 73,000 jobs.
And the need to improve rail links to the site now has backing from the organisation that looks at transport policy for the whole of the north of England.
The timescale and jobs prediction is made in the airport's Vision and Masterplan for the next 20 years, unveiled this week at the airport in Finningley.
Diverting the route to the airport would involve laying only around seven miles of track.
It is believed the scheme to put the link in place would cost around £280m, which includes a contingency for unexpected circumstances. But officials at Transport for the North, the strategic organisation that advises Government transport secretary Chris Grayling, have now confirmed they recognise the need for a rail access plan for the airport.
And the figure is significantly less than multibillion pound cost of schemes including Crossrail in London, and HS2.
Bosses say the station is key to airport expansion plans, and state in their document that it could be open in five years, significantly boosting passenger numbers, and the station would also be used by residents on the east of Doncaster.
The broader masterplan for the 1,600 acre site would see the creation of a highly sophisticated 'Aerotropolis' on the site, creating 73,000 new jobs for the Sheffield City Region and multiple opportunities for growth by 2048.
The Aerotropolis would include an Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, a logistics hub, a global air cargo campus, residential zones and a central plaza of retail outlets, restaurants and hotels.
The increase in cargo freight in particular is something the masterplan says could be of huge benefit to the country, saying it “can facilitate major freight expansion supporting international trade at a crucial time in the country’s development post-Brexit”.
It would also see the airport terminal double in size.
It would have a capacity of 25 million passengers and 250,000 tonnes of cargo per year, and the cargo operation would increase to 70,000 tonnes per year by 2037.
Bosses believe the airport has potential as a major catalyst for transforming the North of England, creating new employment, housing, tourism and aviation capacity.
Jonathan Spruce, Strategy Director, Transport for the North said: “Doncaster Sheffield Airport’s Vision would see it unlock significant passenger and cargo capacity and could create a major economic cluster, supporting the transformation of the North of England economy. We are currently consulting on our draft Strategic Transport Plan for the North which identifies DSA as a key economic centre and we recognise the need for enhanced rail access to DSA.”
Robert Hough CBE, Chairman of Peel Airports said: “This is a Vision with a central pillar that delivers air connectivity, new housing, highly skilled employment, tourism and better rail connectivity at exceptional value for money, it is straightforward to build and deliverable in 5 years. It is of national significance for aviation and the economy, particularly the North, and we want to see it realised as soon as possible. This is required beyond what Heathrow expansion will deliver, with a range of benefits for the North and East of the country.”
Nigel Brewster, vice-chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “I would urge residents, businesses, and politicians from all parties to get behind these ambitious yet deliverable plans for our airport, which include connecting it with the East Coast Mainline. Doncaster Sheffield Airport and its partners has a clear aim in mind and tangible plans in place to make it a reality. Doncaster Sheffield Airport is central to the city region achieving its economic plan of 70,000 additional jobs, an additional 3.1bn GVA and 6,000 new businesses. We have always seen growth of the airport as being a key priority, but no one ‘actor’ can make this growth happen. We must come together with Peel, Doncaster Council, and Transport for the North - and the city region must also do our own part through investment in local transport infrastructure.”
Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said:“Doncaster Sheffield Airport is a superbly located international gateway to the north. It is already experiencing significant growth, driving job creation and delivering new economic activity. Most importantly, it has huge additional potential and can play a major role in the future transport and economic ambitions of the north as set out in its Vision and Masterplan.”
Public consultation on the masterplan is due to start. Log onto www.flydsa.co.uk/masterplan to give your views.