?48million funding boost to get Penistone rail line on the right track

The government have just announced that we’ve been successful in a bid to their Levelling Up Fund for £48million, to support major improvements to the Penistone rail line.

What does this new funding mean?

The Penistone rail line runs between Huddersfield, Penistone and Sheffield, via Barnsley, providing an important link between communities and a sustainable alternative to road travel.

However, the line currently experiences issues with trains being too busy, and the current rail infrastructure means that only one train an hour can travel along the northern section between Huddersfield and Barnsley.  This, added to speed limits of 50mph or lower along some sections, all mean pretty long journey times – averaging about an hour and 15 minutes end to end.

We know these slow journeys cause problems for people travelling between different spots along the line, and are very off-putting for commuters – who instead turn to other forms of transport like travel by car.  For lower income families without access to a car, it creates more barriers to accessing employment, leisure and cultural attractions.

This funding means we’ll be able to improve the infrastructure along this rail line, and improve access as well.  This will make the Penistone line a really important link between Huddersfield, Barnsley and Sheffield!

Where does the funding come from?

The Levelling Up Fund is designed to support local authorities (like us) investing in local infrastructure which will have a big impact on local people and communities.

How will this work be delivered?

We’ll be delivering this work in partnership with Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Network Rail, Northern Rail, Sheffield City Council, the South Yorkshire Combined Authority and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

It will include station improvements creating better access and waiting facilities, increasing the speed of travel along the line and upgrading the rail infrastructure – including doubling sections of track, which will allow for two trains to travel on the northern section of the line every hour, in both directions.

These improvements will mean a lot of benefits for the local economy and for people living in communities along the length of the route.  In future, faster and more frequent trains – which will also be nice to travel on – will open up more opportunities to access work and leisure facilities.  And we’ll get those journey times down to well under an hour!

We also hope these changes will encourage more commuters to use the line, reducing road congestion and carbon emissions, thereby improving local air quality.

Councillor Cathy Scott, Leader of Kirklees Council and Cabinet Member for Transport, says:

“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.”

Councillor Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance and Regeneration, says:

“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.”