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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Candidates of all political parties unite to call for a re-opened Woodhead rail route

Parliamentary candidates from across the political spectrum today are united in their support of the campaign to re-open the Woodhead rail route. Campaigners recently saved the Woodhead Tunnel after work by the National Grid threatened to make future use for rail impossible. Having secured Government assurances that the option for re-instating the line would remain open in 2008, and the fight is now on to re-open the trans-Pennine rail route from Manchester to Sheffield which closed in 1982.

Chair of the Re-open the Woodhead Route Campaign, David Bryson said:

“At this important time we believe a re-opened Woodhead Route would aid economic recovery on both sides of the Pennines, as well as deliver significant environmental and social benefits. We welcome the support for our campaign from all the main political political parties in the region.”

The local candidates in support of the campaign are:

Peter Allen, High Peak, Green Party

Alistair Stevens, High Peak, Lib Dem

Caitlin Bisknell, High Peak, Labour Party

Andrew Bingham, High Peak, Conservative

Jonathan Reynolds, Stalybridge & Hyde, Labour

Clive Betts, Sheffield South East (was Attercliffe), Labour

David Blunkett, Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough, Labour

John Sharp, Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough, Conservative

Jillian Creasy, Sheffield Central, Green Party

Michael Dugher, Barnsley East, Labour

Paul Buckley, Ashton St Michaels, Conservative

Angela Smith, Penistone & Stocksbridge, Labour

For more information Re-open the Woodhead Line Campaign spokesperson:

Jonathan Atkinson

0781 861 7899



1. The Re-open the Woodhead Route Campaign has been in existence since December 2007. More information can be found here:

2. Parliamentary candidates at the 2010 General Election in constituencies which would stand to gain from a re-opened Woodhead rail route were asked to sign up to the core aims of the Re-open the Woodhead Route Campaign group.

There are that the benefits of a re-opened Woodhead line are:

1. Reduced Environmental Impact

* 70% reduction in CO2 emissions by moving the transport of people and freight across the Peak District National Park from road to rail.

* Reduced congestion through the Park from moving freight to rail and piggybacking HGVs on trains.

* Fewer tunnels on the Woodhead route would allow the line to be electrified more quickly and at less expense than the existing Hope Valley Line.

* Reduced road accidents through road traffic reduction

2. Reduced Journey Times

* The 2001 Arriva proposal stated that use of Woodhead could reduce Manchester to Sheffield journeys times from the current average of 55 minutes to 35 minutes. More recent proposals have hinted that journey times could be reduced further using existing trains.

* Trains between the English core cities of Nottingham / Sheffield and Manchester / Liverpool currently use the Hope Valley Line to travel between Sheffield and Manchester. The average speed of these journeys are the slowest on the rail network between any core English cities.

* Re-opening Woodhead would provide a fast rail route between the main East and West coast ports and relieve congestion on the current rail network around Sheffield.

3. Improved Accessibility

* A re-opened line could provide public transport access to the Dark Peak area for non-car users, cyclists and the disabled, where current provision is very poor.

* New connectivity between South Yorkshire and the eastern suburbs of Manchester and Longdendale. The line would open up new opportunities for employment, leisure and inward investment to the communities it would link.

* Integration with proposed new high speed rail services to / from London and Europe would provide lower carbon journey alternatives to flying.

4. Improved Reliability

* Availability as a diversion route when the Hope Valley Line is closed for engineering work or incidents. This would prevent the current arrangements whereby rail passengers are bussed between Sheffield and Manchester when the line is closed.

* More resilient transportation for freight and passengers across the Pennines during periods of bad weather.

* Integration with the High Speed rail network would provide contingency during incidents when flights are disrupted.

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