Sheffield’s Labour MPs have urged the Government to protect the railway link between Manchester and Sheffield, saying it would undermine the levelling-up agenda for cities in the north.
In a consultation that ends on 10 March, three proposals have been made to change the railway system in and around Manchester.
Sheffield would lose its direct rail link to Manchester Airport in two of the options.
A letter signed by Paul Blomfield, Clive Betts, Olivia Blake, Gill Furniss and Louise Haigh stated: “Sheffield needs international connectivity to attract inward investment and enable businesses to improve productivity.
“The long-established direct rail link is a vital part of that and strongly supported by local business. Removing it would undermine the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda for cities in the north.”
Plans for a new dual carriageway connecting Sheffield and Manchester were dropped in January.
The quickest route for road users to travel between the two cities remains the A57 Snake Pass or A628, which are both forced to close several times a year due to bad weather.
Labour’s letter said: “Road connectivity between Sheffield and Manchester Airport is very poor. There is no direct motorway or duel carriageway, linking the cities, and journey times are highly variable and weather dependant.
“The loss of a direct rail connection will drive more road traffic onto already congested trans-Pennine routes.”
There are over 11,000 international students at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam. The letter stressed the importance of the rail link for students studying in the Steel City who live outside of the UK.
It added: “Our world-class universities in Sheffield also rely on this link to recruit international students who are worth more than £200 million a year to our local economy.”
If the direct airport connection is lost, passengers from Sheffield would have to change at Manchester Piccadilly.
A final decision is due in the Spring with any changes set to be introduced in May 2022.