FRESH hope that Barnsley could still benefit from a newly-announced study - which will probe the benefits of delivering high-speed trains between Sheffield and Leeds - has been given by ministers.

The study will be undertaken by Network Rail, with support from HS2 bosses, and it is expected to take two years to complete.

It will consider a ‘range of options’ and take account of value for money, affordability, deliverability, economic development, disruption to passengers and local views.

The proposals, bosses say, build on the government’s Integrated Rail Plan ‘by offering much-improved inter-city and inter-regional connectivity’.

The government had shortened the HS2 route to end in the East Midlands rather than Yorkshire, but revisions are now being explored following calls from local MPs.

Although HS2 would only have briefly entered the borough, a key element of the plan was the proposed new Dearne Valley railway station - mooted for Goldthorpe - which would connect Liverpool, Manchester and its airport, to Leeds, as well as linking to HS2.

The station would have offered connections to Sheffield in 12 minutes, Leeds in 15 minutes, York in 20 minutes, Birmingham Curzon Street in 56 minutes and London Euston in 95 minutes.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said: “A reassessment of the evidence for better connecting the north and the case for a new station will now form part of the development programme and the HS2 to Leeds study.

“However, the undertaking of this work does not guarantee further interventions will be agreed or progressed.

“The government remains committed to the Integrated Rail Plan’s £96bn envelope and expects that additions or changes to the core pipeline will be affordable within that.

“The study will, therefore, make a holistic assessment of future rail capacity needs in the wider area, and the impacts of interfacing projects.

“It will assess different options for meeting these needs, building on analysis conducted to date and setting out the likely costs, impacts and outputs associated with each.

“The disruption associated with different options, both to passengers and to economic development in the affected area will also be considered.

“The study will take account of value for money, affordability, deliverability and delivery timescales, to enable the government to take a fully informed decision.”

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis - who played a key role in championing HS2 in South Yorkshire during his time as its mayor - criticised the government for axing the route previously.

“The Prime Minister is fooling no-one if he thinks people in Barnsley and the north will believe this is a good deal.

“HS2 would stop south of Nottingham, while plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail - a new high-speed line between Leeds and Manchester - had been dropped.

“They had a chance to send a strong message that the rail investment, that was promised, must be delivered.

“Local people understandably feel betrayed after repeated government promises about rail investment in HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“We have an ambition to ensure there’s a service from Barnsley to London but in order to make that happen, work will have to take place.”