Crowded out on the Calder Valley rail line

Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Concerns have been raised about overcrowding on the Calder Valley line, as it is revealed that passenger growth has increased by “more than 50 per cent” since 2004.

Rail groups and councillors discussed growing issues on the busy commuting line, at the Calder Ward forum held at Hebden Bridge Town Hall on Tuesday, that runs direct routes to Manchester, Blackpool and Leeds.

Pete Myers, Head of Service Quality for Northern Rail, was in agreement about the concerns of overcrowding and said that the lack of trains, the size and the amount of carriages is adding to the ongoing problem.

“Overcrowding is our biggest problem and it has to be resolved. There is more than 50 per cent extra people on the train line since 2004.”

The Calder Valley line was franchised to Northern Rail in 2004 and since last September, had been expected to run the rail lines as they did at the start of the contract - not allowing for the growth in passengers.

Nina Smith, secretary of the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group, said that “there is not enough railway carriages” in West Yorkshire.

“National Rail operate in difficult circumstances. They are expected to run railway services the same as they did in 2004 but since then, passenger load has increased dramatically in Hebden Bridge.

“The whole way the railway is run is chaotic. We need money to get extra carriages, as there is not enough trains.

“The fault is the Government’s and the previous Government for not investing in the railway and for not seeing how the growth is affecting services.”

Stephen Waring, chair of the Halifax and District Rail Action Group, said: “I travelled from Halifax to Leeds last Monday morning at peak time and it was overcrowded the whole way. People are paying the peak rates and should be getting the services.

“Overcrowding is a problem right across the north of England. We need more modern trains.

“We need to see Northern Rail, the Government, local authorities and other train groups delivering on the promises to improve train times on the line and deliver more affective services.”

A report released earlier this year by Passenger Focus provided results of customer satisfaction in Autumn 2013.

On the Northern Rail line, there was a noticed decrease in customer satisfaction in providing sufficient room for passengers to sit or stand.

Metro Chairman Coun James Lewis said: “There is severe overcrowding on the rail services in West Yorkshire.

“It is a clear issue in the area and it is about the quality of the services on the trains.

“There has been around a 50 per cent growth of passengers in the past ten or 12 years.”