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Wednesday, 6 August 2014



  The Chancellor has recently made a new announcement, proposing an east-west high speed rail link to be added to the existing HS2 plans. He gave no details, but he mentioned Manchester and Leeds as being likely to be involved. At this month’s meeting we thought we should give this announcement a guarded welcome. The route we want established is, of course, Manchester to Sheffield. However at the very least Mr Osborne is finally recognising the need to develop east-west rail communications in northern England.

There is no denying that we are chasing a moving target. We want to associate political and commercial movers and shakers with our campaign, but we are in no position to be precise about the finer detail of what we would like them to associate themselves with. In fact this may not be entirely a bad thing. We are not trying to unmake any entrenched plans or get any firm decisions reversed. While proposals are still fluid we need to look for ways of making sure that they develop in ways that suit what we are trying to achieve. However if we want allies we need to have something to offer them.

So who else wants, or might want, a Manchester to Sheffield link?  Operating from west of the Pennines we have always ‘thought Manchester’.  In fact it may be that ‘railway consciousness’ is stronger in Sheffield than it is on the west side. Obviously this has to be worth sounding out, at least, so our next move will be to see who we can find in Sheffield who shares our ideas.  One thing that we definitely have got  going for us is the tremendous amount of detailed work that has been done by our in-house civil engineer Colin Elliff. Colin’s scope is much wider than ours, but his proposals include what we are looking for.  So Sheffield here we come.

Dave Brysson - Chair - Re-open the Woodhead Line