I write with two hats on – as an independent railway consultant and as a Todmorden Town Councillor – responding to the letter last week from Alisdair Calder McGregor, our Liberal Democrat PCC.
Alisdair makes some valid points; a new rail strategy for the Caldervale line is required, and the 30 years old rolling stock is in need of replacement.
However, I do have to ask why he blames this situation on everyone but the Lib Dems? After all, they have been in Government for four years.
Over that period, the Lib Dems have had Ministers at the Department for Transport.
The current Railway Minister is a Lib Dem – who incidentally has just approved the transfer of 10 trains from Trans-Pennine Express to Chiltern Railways.
Network Rail’s next five-year investment plan, starting in April, was essentially devised by the current Government.
This plan does include electrifying the Manchester-Leeds-York trans-Pennine route (and with it new trains) but not the Caldervale Line. It also includes re-opening a rural line in the South East, despite having a poor business case, yet a major commuter route into Leeds/Manchester is left without investment.
Local railway strategy is the responsibility of WY Metro (not Calderdale MBC as stated by our Lib Dem PCC).
Labour-controlled WY Metro has, despite being handicapped by a lack of investment, worked with Northern to introduce extra services and seating capacity on the Caldervale Line (from May Todmorden will have four trains/hour to Manchester, a few years ago it was only twice hourly).
The Lib Dems have had their opportunity, yet they failed to deliver the investment required.
Only the Labour Party locally is promoting investment in new rail facilities (as per your front page last week).
Only Labour is offering a fresh approach to rail service delivery nationally.
Councillor Michael Hatfield