UNLOCKING the full potential of the Penistone Line and transforming the appeal and fortunes of the entire route, that is the prospect for rail users following the bid to the Levelling-Up Fund co-sponsored by MPs Mark Eastwood and Miriam Cates, should it be approved.
After decades of decline through a string of route rationalisation cuts, the direction of travel for the line is set to change.
This would be a massive switch for a line on the brink of closure through the crazy 1980s. We also wish Ms Cates success in her sponsorship of the Restore Your Railway bid for the Sheffield – Stocksbridge reopening, which we hope will be followed by the reinstatement of the Deepcar – Penistone gap.
Mark Eastwood is to be applauded for taking a lead and garnering support from across the political spectrum that shows ambition has replaced apathy. Mr Eastwood has identified an asset and applied it to the wider picture, thus bringing it in from the cold so that it can play a much needed greater role in all the communities served by it, something which others previously chose to ignore.
His initiative contrasts with all those condemned the line to a future of stagnation by showing little appetite to develop it, resulting in a basic railway when something much better was required. His stance, with the backing of Miriam Cates, demolishes the “boundaries are barriers” approach that the line has suffered for far too long.
Waiting 29 minutes for your next train rather than the present 59 will be a game-changer through the bid that centres on enhanced route capacity and increased line speeds, which we called for in 2002 with our Eight Point Penistone Line Plan.
Is not the £47m bid a consequence of sustained route rationalisation measures? Communities along the route warrant an improved rail offer which we are sure they will respond to. An half-hourly timetable would result in connectivity finally having real relevance to the line.
Two trains per hour would deliver decent connections with London St Pancras services at Sheffield, along with many other benefits.
Having experienced various false dawns over the years, our fingers remain firmly crossed as we await an expected autumn decision. If approval is forthcoming, then it would be the icing on the cake in our 40th anniversary year.
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