The line, which runs through Huddersfield, Sheffield, Penistone and Barnsley, is essential for commuters in the area, but has long been plagued with slow travel times due to insufficient railway investment in recent years.
As part of the government’s Levelling Up scheme, many public bodies across the country have had the opportunity to bid for additional funding to help improve their local services.
It is hoped that the new investment in the Penistone line will help to dramatically increase the speed of commuter journeys through the area.
Sections of the line between Huddersfield and Barnsley are currently subjected to a 50mph speed limit due to the limitations of the current infrastructure, and only one train is able to run each hour. This has led to slow journeys taking an average of an hour and a half from end to end of the line, and an infrequent service that has discouraged many potential passengers from seeing the rail network as a viable travel solution.
The hope is that not only will the new investment make the Penistone line more appealing for commuters, but it will also help to bring new tourists and leisure passengers to the area, helping to increase the ease with which Yorkshire residents can travel between towns.
One of the big changes to the line will be the addition of a second section of track on some parts of the line, which will allow trains to run more frequently in both directions, easing congestion.
The investment is also expected to cover the cost of improvements to stations and waiting areas, making the line a more comfortable experience for passengers.
According to Kirklees Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Transport Cathy Scott: “Here in Kirklees, our connectedness is one of our greatest strengths. We not only have great towns and beautiful countryside, we’re also slap bang in the middle of some of the north’s most influential cities – and our rail links help connect us with those cities, with the rest of the north, beyond that, the whole of the UK. The benefits of improving these connections, both to individual residents and to our local economy as a whole, are huge.
“It’s also important to remember that this project is part of a much bigger picture in terms of developing Kirklees’ transport system, which will also help make public transport a more viable option across the district, tying in with our green agenda. For example, as Huddersfield is a stop on the Transpennine Route – which is currently being upgraded – there is also the opportunity to connect more people to this and other planned infrastructure projects.
“It’s very exciting to see so much transformation across Kirklees and beyond.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance and Regeneration has added:
“I am delighted that the Levelling Up Fund bid for this project has been successful and will allow us to deliver significant improvements to the Penistone line and provide numerous benefits to businesses and communities along the route.
“Our transport links not only give us the opportunity to broaden the labour market for businesses in our area but provides easier and faster access to employment opportunities and leisure activities or events in the wider region.
“We submitted four Kirklees bids for Levelling Up funds, and all have now been successful. That is testament to the hard work our officers have put into designing and producing high quality bids. I want to thank Tracy Brabin, all the MPs, businesses and local people who supported us to put some brilliant plans together.
“We will keep working to bring investment to all parts of Kirklees and this great selection of ambitious plans will help us deliver the economic growth we all need.”