‘PRODUCTIVE’ discussions have been held between local leaders and transport bosses over ambitious plans to reopen a defunct passenger railway line ahead of a funding application being lodged later this year, the Chronicle can reveal.

Royston - which had its own four-platform station from 1841 until its closure in 1968 - still has an operational line but it is only used for freight trains to deliver sand to the Ardagh Glass factory in nearby Monk Bretton.

Work would have to be done to reinstate a line for passenger use but given the infrastructure is there, it’s hoped it will boost the bid which is being backed by Barnsley Central MP and South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis and is set to be placed in November.

Dan told the Chronicle he is committed to restoring the railway line between Barnsley and Wakefield via Royston, as part of the Department for Transport Restore Your Railway Fund, alongside a local steering group which includes ward councillors.

He said: “I have held productive conversations with Barnsley Council and the Sheffield City Region’s transport team about the Royston rail bid being resubmitted ahead of the next round of funding in November.

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“This bid - which would restore rail connectivity between the north of Barnsley and West Yorkshire - will have potentially transformative regeneration opportunities for the villages of Royston, Carlton and Lundwood and significantly improve our borough’s rail connectivity.

“It is the missing piece of the jigsaw in enabling residents to access affordable and reliable rail services for work, study and leisure.

“I will continue to work closely with Barnsley Council and key strategic partners in the region to reopen the Royston rail line.”

Coun Caroline Makinson, who represents the Royston ward, said the project has been a long-running one but feels Dan’s backing could be key in securing the cash needed.

“This line being reopened would make a huge difference to nearby villages, enabling commuters to travel much more quickly to Wakefield and on to Leeds,” she added.

“The lack of a railway link has been a long-running issue in the local community and this bid, if approved, would unlock fresh opportunities for investment and regeneration for the ward.

“I’ll be working closely with Dan and the Royston Ward Alliance to continue to campaign for the reopening of this line.”

Barnsley Council cabinet member, Coun Tim Cheetham, who is also a Royston representative, said: “We’re keen on restoring the Royston rail line - it’s a great opportunity that will help to get cars off the road and reduce our carbon emissions, protecting our borough for future generations.

“The line will also open up economic opportunities for our local residents and will support our long-term plans to stimulate the growth of more and better jobs and homes.

“I’ll continue to work with our partners to support our bid in November.”