Transport group puts case for rail line electrification

A transport group has called on the government to include the Calder Valley line in a list of possible routes to be electrified.

Saturday, 28th December 2013, 6:00 am
Nina Smith, secretary of the Upper Calder Valley Rennaisance Sustainable Transport Group outside Hebden Bridge train station.

A government task force has been set up to examine the case for the electrification of a number of railway lines, including several in the north.

The Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group has welcomed this, but is very concerned that the Calder Valley line is not included in the list.

The group feels this is an oversight that should be corrected.

Secretary Nina Smith said there are several reasons why both the Halifax/Bradford and Brighouse routes on the Calder Valley line should be included in the list.

“The Calder Valley line is one of the busiest lines in the region, with usage growing significantly year on year,” she said.

“Hebden Bridge, for example, has an official footfall of more than three quarters of a million passengers, having doubled in less than ten years.

“The expectation is that after the completion of the Castlefield Curve, trains will run through the Calder Valley to Manchester Airport.

“One of the four hourly trains on the Calder Valley line runs through to Selby, which is on the electrification list. Clearly it is nonsense to have to use diesel trains on such services.

“It is necessary to use the Calder Valley line, normally via Brighouse, for diverting Huddersfield line Trans-Pennine Express (TPE) trains when that route is closed for engineering or other reasons.

“This will not be possible once the TPE services are electrified if the Calder Valley line isn’t.”

Nina said that electric trains are greener and accelerate faster, reducing the carbon footprint and enabling journey times to be improved and new stations to be accommodated.

In other rail news, commuters could soon see improvements to regional train services after a partnership was agreed between Rail North and the Department for Transport (DfT).

Rail North, which represents local authorities across the North of England, has joined forces with the DfT to take on responsibility for the management and future specification of the Northern and Trans-Pennine franchises, which will begin next year.

The Rail North proposals include a long term rail strategy for the local authorities to work together.

Coun Barry Collins, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for economy and environment, said: “This new partnership will look at ways in which we can deliver a rail service fit for the future.

“In Calderdale it could mean better, more modern trains, ensuring that all of our towns have frequent, reliable, fast services with good connections to Manchester, Leeds and our regional airports, and delivery of an improved weekend service supporting tourism.”