STATIONS and tracks along a well-used train route which passes through Barnsley will benefit from a multi-million pound funding package which will improve the frequency of services, it was announced this week.

The ‘Penistone Line’, which starts at Barnsley Interchange and passes its way through Dodworth, Silkstone Common and Penistone stations on its way to Huddersfield, has been included in the government’s long-awaited ‘Network North’ rail investment scheme.

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates welcomed the £48m investment, which will be the first phase of a programme of track and station upgrades, leading to ‘significant improvements’ in the performance and reliability of services.

The Chronicle understands track layouts and signals will be the first to see work, with plans for a half-hourly service - effectively doubling the current schedule - to follow.

She said: “I firmly believe that by improving public transport connectivity we create opportunities to level up the economic and social life of our communities, whilst also solving some of the day-to-day transport problems that we face here.

“I’m delighted that we’ve succeeded in securing the funding to start upgrading the Penistone Line.

“This line has long been neglected compared to other commuter services, and I know local people will strongly support the improvements.

“This is fantastic news for people across Penistone, Silkstone and Dodworth who will benefit from a significant improvement in the local rail service.

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“The government has rightly recognised the importance of this line and is investing in levelling up transport connectivity here in Barnsley.

“This is something I’ve been campaigning for since I was elected and I know it will be welcomed across our community.

“There have been some reliability issues on the Penistone Line recently, and whilst these upgrades will make a big difference, I’m also calling on the train operators to do what is necessary now to give passengers the reliable service they deserve.

“Improving public transport connectivity is one of my top priorities, so I’m pleased to be delivering major investment across all parts of my constituency through these two projects.”

The project will be led by Kirklees Council in collaboration with Barnsley Council and the South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authorities who are responsible for the local transport networks in the neighbouring counties.

South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard said boosting local public transport provisions is ‘key’ to future economic success.

He added: “Fixing our public transport system is a key priority; it has to include reconnecting our communities with our railways and better links between our train, tram and bus networks, to not only meet our net zero goals but to open up the work, education and social opportunities that everyone deserves.

“The government have set a timeframe for levelling up transport connectivity across our region by 2030, but we need them to match our energy and ambition.

“We’ve been working to keep the pressure on both the government and transport companies to get the investment we need here in South Yorkshire in order to achieve that goal.”