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Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Sheffield Star: Power line plan throws doubt on Woodhead line (Richard Marsden)

An article from today's Sheffield Star about National Grid's plans for the Woodhead tunnel, by Richard Marsden:

Doubts have been cast over improvement plans for Sheffield's rail link with Manchester - with the chance of reopening the Woodhead line in jeopardy and concern improvements to existing services may be unworkable.

Stocksbridge councillor Martin Brelsford is proposing a motion at today's meeting of Sheffield Council expressing "dismay" at proposals to use the disused Woodhead Tunnel for a power line.

The route has been closed since the 1980s but could be reopened to allow extra services.

Under Sheffield's Economic Masterplan - the 15-year blueprint for the city's development - better rail links across the Pennines are vital.

Coun Brelsford is calling on the council to ask National Grid to make sure trains can still run through the tunnel despite the power line - and request a feasibility study into reopening Woodhead.

The Department for Transport cannot prevent the power line because Woodhead Tunnel is now owned by National Grid. A spokesman said there are "no current plans" to reopen the line but would not rule it out in the future.

David Young, of SYPTE, said Sheffield needs four trains an hour to Manchester in the long-term - which could require a second line such as Woodhead - but more seats on existing services was the immediate aim.