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Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Sheffield Star: Angela Smith in talks over future of Woodhead tunnel (Richard Marsden)

An article from today's Sheffield Star about Angela Smith MP meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly, by Richard Marsden:

Hillsborough MP Angela Smith has met with transport secretary Ruth Kelly to press for the threatened Woodhead Tunnel to be retained for future rail development.

She believes it is vital that plans to run electricity cables through the main tunnel, built in 1953 but disused since 1981, do not prevent it being used for trains once more. National Grid currently runs cables through two older, Victorian tunnels, which run alongside the main tunnel, but their condition is deteriorating.

Ms Smith said: "The Woodhead Tunnel is, in my opinion, of vital importance not just to Sheffield but the whole of the north.

"Along with many others, I have long held an ambition to see trains running
through the tunnel again.

"The Woodhead route, if re-opened, could play a key part in reducing congestion on the roads and in encouraging the use of rail for freight traffic.

"I am hopeful that a solution can be found whereby it will be possible to maintain the option of using the 1953 tunnel as part of a new transpennine rail link, as and when it is seen that such a link is required."

Ms Smith is one of 60 MPs who have signed a motion urging the Government to step in and preserve the tunnels for transport. She has also raised the issue in a parliamentary debate on transport.

She has pledged that during the coming months, she will work with fellow MPs from the surrounding area to make the case for the railway to be reopened, providing Sheffield with a second trans-Pennine link.