The 2023 Annual General Meeting of Halifax & District Rail Action Group will be on Saturday 17 June starting at 14.15 (doors open 13.45) in the Oddfellows room, Coleridge St, Halifax HX1 2JY. Discussion will include review of HADRAG’s year and strategy. Topical issues include stations, and fares retailing. We hope the latest WY Combined Authority rail plan will be published by then. A speaker will be invited. More details to follow. Please accept this as advance notification – and see you there!
How about a train that could get you from Brighouse to Sheffield in 50 minutes?
Independent research group Greengauge 21 published a report last winter proposing upgrades and new stations along a broadly defined Sheffield-Leeds corridor. For which read Sheffield not just to Leeds but also to York via Wakefield and Castleford, and – in a second stage – to Bradford via the Calder Valley line. Greengauge say some of the proposals are almost ready to go, and the hope or even expectation is that much could be completed within a decade. (Sheffield-Leeds: What’s Next? Greengage 21, December 2022 – Interim rail improvements for the Yorkshire economy – Greengauge 21)
The idea is also that – with uncertainty about high speed proposals certainly not decreasing – we need to develop improved services over existing routes. We can not wait a whole generation – maybe more – for services to be upgraded. Existing passengers need to be able to see benefits – including new services that will attract new passengers. It’s not just about connecting the big cities.
HADRAG is particularly excited by the Bradford-Sheffield proposal. We flatter ourselves that we suggested it first about 20 years ago! Reopening of the Crigglestone curve would be required – a line from Horbury, by the former station, that connected with the Wakefield-Barnsley route and carried a summer Saturday Bradford-Weymouth train until the late 1980s, when it was closed after the “Five Curves” hearings. Three of the curves reopened with Brighouse station in May 2000. The Crigglestone curve is still there, not built on. It would undoubtedly need some work to restore but the benefits for Bradford, Halifax and the lower Calder valley would be massive.
Greengauge’s map shows how the Bradford-Sheffield service would fit geographically. Note new station proposed “Ossett & Horbury”, actually in Horbury but providing for the biggest town in Yorkshire without trains, could also be served by services from Manchester, Huddersfield and the Calder Valley to Wakefield and beyond.
Greengauge suggests trains from Bradford could serve Low Moor, Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield and Horbury before running fast to Barnsley, Meadowhall and Sheffield. We have already pointed out that Elland should be added to the list of calls. Greengauge’s director, Jim Steer, did not disagree! The table shows our estimates (not Greengauge’s) of journey times.
Looking on National Rail’s journey planner for Brig house to Sheffield times revealed what a complex journey this is under present service patterns. The Greengauge proposal would provide an hourly through train taking 50 minutes.
The benefits for Bradford are not quite as great but the proposed service avoids the need to change at Leeds, or have a through service that would require reversal in Leeds – with timetabling complications.
The big benefits of the proposed service are definitely for Halifax, lower Calderdale, Mirfield and Horbury/Ossett.
Halifax-Sheffield would be only fractionally more than an hour. Elland and Brig house’s position on the national rail map would be strengthened. Connections to East Midlands, Birmingham and the South West would be eased, avoiding the oft-heard complaint “We don’t want to go by train because you have to go the long way round via Leeds.”
Further development could extend the through service from Bradford beyond Sheffield, maybe to Leicester. The whole proposal would be highly beneficial for stations in Calderdale, Kirklees (Mirfield) and Wakefield (Horbury for Ossett) districts. It would provide access to the massive potential of towns such as Barnsley, and of course direct access from South Yorkshire to the business and leisure attraction of south-west Yorkshire. Barnsley to Halifax Piece Hall in under three quarters of an hour!
As we said, Bradford-Sheffield is in the second phase of Greengauge’s proposals.
The first phase would involve immediate action to provide:
- Second hourly fast service Leeds-Sheffield via Wakefield Westgate, on the opposite half-hour to Cross Country’s long-distance service to the South West – thought to be an existing ambition of Northern Trains.
- New Rotherham main line station, located to offer connections with the Sheffield tram-trains and buses (which we reckon also means a new tram station). The new station could be served by trains on Leeds and Doncaster to Sheffield, Manchester and cross-country routes. It would not be on our slightly more aspirational Bradford-Barnsley-Sheffield route.
- Extension of London St Pancras to Sheffield trains via Barnsley and Wakefield Kirkgate to York via
- Castleford. Potential here to maximise benefits of current work to provide a second platform at Castleford. As always, an alternative could be (yet) another service to Leeds.
Phase 2 – initiate planning – alongside Bradford-Sheffield, proposes a new link from Sheffield for Manchester Airport, plus examination of extending the new Leeds-Sheffield fast to Birmingham. Is the Airport link of more or less net benefit than a new service Bradford-Sheffield with a new station for Ossett, and major improvements to regional connectivity?
Phase 3 is headed renew investigations for things like infill electrification Sheffield-Doncaster/Leeds – surely essential! – plus relieving capacity constraints north of Sheffield’s Midland station.
This matches our ambitions – but is it realistic?
So how could the Greengauge 21 proposals tie in with HADRAG’s ambitions for the Calder Valley line, not least doubling of frequency on the Elland/Brighouse line? Going beyond faults in the present timetable such as the obvious need for all Manchester and Blackpool trains to stop at Sowerby Bridge we have called for a doubling of frequency at Elland and Brighouse. All three local stations just mentioned serve populations comparable with the two main upper valley stations combined but have little if any more than half the service level. So we want more trains Halifax and Sowerby Bridge to Elland, Brighouse and beyond.
(And all upper Calderdale trains should serve Sowerby Bridge!)
Additional Calder Valley trains could go to Wakefield, Castleford (using the newly constructed platform) and York. Not everyone wants to go to Leeds! (But Leeds would be an alternative destination.) Another might take longer to develop but could go via Horbury and Barnsley to Meadowhall and Sheffield (maybe beyond) a la Greengauge 21.
So, in one model, a future service pattern at Elland and Brighouse could be
- 2 trains/hr to Halifax and Bradford
- 2 trains/hr to upper Calderdale, alternating Manchester and east Lancs, Preston etc
- 1 train/hr (at least) to Huddersfield
- At least 2 trains/hr eastwards via existing routes, at least 1 to Leeds but maybe 1/hr to Wakefield, Castleford and York
- 1 train/hr to Bradford to Sheffield, maybe Leicester via Mirfield, Horbury, Barnsley and Meadowhall.
- Intercity services less frequently, at least the present 4 trains/day Grand Central to London.
Will it ever happen? Greengauge’s suggested Bradford-Sheffield service would massively benefit Halifax and lower Calder valley stations – a huge improvement for Brighouse (and Elland). We shall keep up the argument with train operators, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Transport for the North and local representatives and MPs. We can not wait for high-speed proposals which will not clearly benefit our line. We need action this decade. – JSW
Journey Times: how long would our train take?
The following times for a through service are HADRAG’s estimates. Existing times quoted are for outward times on a weekday morning.
|from Bradford||to Sheffield||Typical Existing times to Sheffield for Comparison|
|Bradford Interchange||00||75||83 to 87 min (change at Leeds – note 1)|
|Halifax||12||63||95 to 100 min (change at Leeds – note 2)|
|Brighouse||25||50||82 to 120 mins via. Leeds (faster using GC train – note 2)|
|Mirfield||32||43||84 to 120 mins via. Leeds (faster using GC train – note 2)|
|Horbury for Ossett||40||35||not applicable (proposed new station)|
Note 1 – through train via Leeds (with train reversal) could take around 70 min, dependant on stops and pathing. Note 2 – faster times available when Grand Central gives connection at Wakefield Kirkgate e.g. on mid-morning train from Hfx 84 min, Brighs 70min, Mirfield 62min to Sheffield; but remember GC only runs 4 trains/day. Finding good times from Brighouse and Mirfield to Sheffield was a challenge! The 82 min quoted from Brighouse allows less than the recommended 10 minutes to change in Leeds. Some search results involved doubling back at Huddersfield or Dewsbury. Present Brighouse-Huddersfield trains do not connect with Huddersfield-Penistone- Sheffield trains – unless you consider a wait of almost an hour a connection!
Further factor is current suspension of Huddersfield-Wakefield service: when this service runs, journey time (change at Wakefield Kirkgate) is about 84 minutes Mirfield-Sheffield. Restoration of Huddersfield-Wakefield is expected, possibly in Dec’23, and possibly in a different form operated by TransPennine Express.
Header Image: “Sheffield city centre from Park Hill” flickr photo by Ulleskelf https://flickr.com/photos/ulleskelf/51395251706 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license
Planning permission for Elland — Opening in Sight
Elland station gained planning permission earlier this year. Why did this take so long you might well ask? First thing to say is there is no point trying to complete planning procedures until the plans are as near as possible final. So planning appproval is a sure sign that this project will get the go-ahead. The projected station has certainly evolved and will include access via stairs, lifts and ramps. There should be adequate protection from wind and rain.
Latest plans and details can be found in more detail on Calderdale council’s website. The associated access package will open up high quality walking and cycling routes with new river and canal bridges towards Exley and along the canal bank to Greetland (West Vale).
Yes, it has taken a long time to get this far. Recent setbacks have included redesigns due to changes to Network Rail fire regulations and waits for reponses from official consultees. Elland was deleted from the original Brighouse line reopening – expensive to build. But an early study (1990) had forecast that of the two stations Elland could attract more passengers. Choosing the best site for the station has always caused local argument. We still hear occasional voices speaking out for the station site in Exley Lane and for Greetland. Both these alternatives have the disadvatages of serving few houses within walking distance and remoteness from local urban centres. The chosen site at Elland Lane is
- well served by the local road network,
- close to a lot more – and more concentrated – housing,
- next to Lowfields business park (which did not exist when the 1990 study was carried out),
- close to Morrisons superstore, Elland town centre and a private hospital.
HADRAG has argued that local NHS facilities – Calderdale Royal Hospital and Royal Huddersfield Infirmary could be accessed from upper Calderdale towns by a minibus link from Elland station, whilst new bus routes could be developed around Elland, Greetland and Stainland to serve the station and link communities. Groundwork for a highly successful station.
We also keep saying – without apology! – that each of Elland and Brighouse stations will serve a population comparable with the two main upper Calderdale stations combined. Hence our call for doubling of the present train service frequency in lower Calderdale and opening up of new destinations.
Next stage in the station planning process will be “FBC” (full business case) later this year. The promise is completion by end of 2025, meaning trains on existing hourly routes Wigan-Manchester-Brighouse-Leeds and Bradford-Huddersfield calling at the new station perhaps to slightly adjusted timings – the extra stop will add a couple of minutes. Which will, arguably of course, be a quarter of a century late.
Electric Railway Charter Update
RIA (Rail Industry Association) North has published a plan for electrification across the North spanning Carlisle, Teesside and the East Midlands. Most lines are designated priority 1 (yellow on map below). Priority 2 lines (green) would later transform bi-mode operation to pure electric. Priority 3 (blue) is longer term battery/hydrogen proposals around the edges of the map. RIA North marks 36 freight terminals that would be decarbonised one way or another.
Needless to say, all cross-Pennine routes are priority 1 from Merseyside to Humberside and Scarborough, including of course the full Calder Valley line that was top-ranked by the 2015 task force. Manchester-Bradford-Leeds is second among the top 10 priority 1 schemes, after Sheffield-Doncaster/Wakefield. Completion of Huddersfield and London-Sheffield is assumed. Our thumbnail of RIA North’s map below may be small print but you can find the whole report at Roadmap for a green railway in the North unveiled (riagb.org.uk).
The trick now of course is to convince HM Treasury that not only is electrification affordable. We cannot afford not to electrify, given environmental and resources uncertainties about hydrogen (the RIA barely mentions it) and about batteries (where’s all the lithium coming from?) and less-than ideal efficiency – wastefulness – of multi-mode trains. Electrification will pay for itself by cutting running costs, benefitting customers and combatting climate change.
Halifax station: chance to look at options for progress – option zero not enough!
After years of planning, 2022’s surge of inflation got the better of several West Yorkshire capital schemes. One was Halifax station’s Gateway, a project complicated by involving five (at least) different legal stakeholders. Calderdale Council, owner of ground-level property leased by the Eureka! museum including their car park and the 1855 original station building. Northern Trains and Network Rail have the railway premises. And West Yorkshire Combined Authority (Metro) have an oversight in terms of transport policy and the money from government – money that is no longer enough. (If we have got any of this wrong, please tell us.) So we have moved from about to go ahead to “pause and pipeline”. Pause is obvious. Pipeline means, we think, hoping that funding will come from alternative sources yet to be identified.
So what next for rail’s gateway to our town? The station is ideal as an access point for Square Chapel Arts Centre, the library, the unique Piece Hall and all the shops, cafés and events it hosts. We could go on. With so much work done on planning the Gateway scheme we can see there’s an argument for not doing anything until full funding appears. How long could that be? Five years? Ten?? “Option zero” (our phrase) – wait until the whole scheme can be funded – seems to be in favour. That means waiting for alternative sources of investment.
The plans could be improved. It was good that a new bridge was to be provided for pedestrians – and we hope cyclists – to access the first floor concourse, the bad news was that the ticket office was to be on the ground floor. We were told this was because Northern felt it necessary to keep a physical eye on people going in and out of the public toilet also on the ground floor. But access to the trains is via the footbridge, rather obviously on the first floor. You couldn’t make it up.
“Option 1” would be a programme of incremental improvements retaining what we have without sabotaging future development. Do we really need to demolish the present building containing booking office and shop? Could it be retained and improved, built upon?
What are our priorities?
The issue of “public conveniences” seems to have painfully emerged more often than anything else about Halifax station over 38 years (heaven help us) of HADRAG meetings. Toilets on the station are important, not least because our new trains have only one and if that one is not working discomfort (at best) will result. The present station facility is a single unit at the back of the platform waiting room, so not accessible outside staffing hours. During autumn 2022 it was out of order for several weeks. When it reopened HADRAG’s anonymous secret consumer decently took a peep, initially put off by the lock indicator which has always suggested “engaged” when “vacant”. The sink contained an empty whisky bottle and a crisp packet. Everything else looked “normal”: reasonably clean, but suggestive of a previous century.
- A new unit be installed at the station entrance where an eye could be kept by staff on who is going in and coming out. There is a staff toilet at that level so this proposal would seem achievable.
- In Greater Manchester there is a programme of new modular toilet installations (as pictured) at stations including Littleborough. Clearly this must be spread across the Northern network.
Platform access – lift, doors and footbridge
The lift, essential for some rail users to access trains, seems to work but is another feature with a last-century air. What can be done at low cost to modernise it?
- Sliding doors from the foot of the stairs to the platform have never worked and need to be removed.
- The footbridge itself appears to need structural repair.
- How might waiting passengers be encouraged to stand in the best place, promoting efficient boarding and alighting, and on-time departures, whilst and not blocking access from the footbridge stairs to what is actually the narrowest part of the platform. Do trains stop in the best place?
Approach bridge – remove general parking and refurbish
Able-bodied drivers who fill the station car park on the approach bridge early in the morning could park at ground level. A deal could be reached with Eureka! to provide free parking for rail users. Removal of general parking on the bridge ease movement everyone.
- Direct access by ramp (possibly lift) would be required from ground level to the station entrance.
- The approach bridge would then be free for walkers, disabled car users and cyclists.
- There would be more space on the bridge for drop-off, pick-up, and taxis.
- With at least medium-term future assured the bridge needs serious refurbishment with attractive paint colours.
- The ticket office and shop are both well used. Many people will queue in the booking office rather than battle with awkward ticket vending machines that can never deliver the ticket and information services provided by the station’s excellent staff. Not everyone wants to depend on a mobile phone.
More platforms and future use of 1855 building?
The original 1855 station is part of the Eureka! estate but seems to be little used. It was rejected in early iterations of the Gateway scheme. A strength of the Gateway project was provision for possible future reinstatement of Platform 3, alongside the 1855 building.
Why stop at Platform 3? If mass transit eventually reaches Halifax, or more complex service patterns develop in a future where public, not private, transport is the norm, why not Platform 4 as well? Future plans must respect that possibility.
Community rail at Halifax
If you have seen posters at Halifax station featuring Calderdale scenes and Anne Lister they are down to students at Calderdale College. The college and Northern have developed a station adoption arrangement, involving young people in support for the station. HADRAG enthusiastically supports this.
- Now that the station is going to stay as it is for the time being, could the posters be more permanent?
- Community rail groups and the Calder Valley Community Rail Partnership should be involved in developing an action plan for the station.
Conclusion: There is much that can be done and must be done to improve Halifax station for rail passengers and the local community. This cannot wait 5 years or more for a grand scheme to attract funding. A step-by-step process must be considered. – JSW
Bradford-Halifax-Barnsley-Sheffield via Crigglestone? Greengauge 21 outlines ambitious plan for Leeds-Sheffield corridor.
Could a route in the lower Calder Valley be reopened to transform connectivity between Bradford, Calderdale, Barnsley and Sheffield? The Crigglestone curve was one of the five curves that carried just a few trains on summer Saturdays until closed in the mid-1980s. Three of the curves formed the Halifax-Huddersfield railway that reopened with Brighouse station in May 2000. The Crigglestone curve, which carried weekly Bradford-Weymouth train, branched off the Calder Valley line at Horbury Station Junction where Horbury and Ossett station used to be and linked to the Wakefield Barnsley-Line.
The curve has not been used since, but HADRAG members have held on to the idea that this would be a very useful link indeed if reopened for an hourly service every day from Bradford to Sheffield. We reckon trains serving Low Moor, Halifax, Elland (we hope!) Brighouse, Mirfield, and a reopened Horbury and Ossett, could then run fast to Barnsley, Meadowhall and and Sheffield. We reckon Bradford Interchange to Sheffield would take no more than 75 minutes; Brighouse to Meadowhall about 50 minutes.
And it would be much more attractive for Halifax and lower Calderdale passengers than the big trail round via Leeds. The map below shows the wider Leeds-Sheffield discussed in a recent report by Greengauge 21 (http://www.greengauge21.net/ )
Map shows the Leeds-Sheffield corridor as envisioned by research group Greengauge 21, Sheffield-Leeds: What’s Next, December 2022. Reproduced with thanks.
Greengage 21’s new paper (http://www.greengauge21.net/wp-content/uploads/Sheffield-Leeds-Whats-Next-A4-FINAL-1.pdf ) advocates immediate action to provide a second fast service every hour Leeds-Sheffield via Wakefield Westgate. A new main line station at Rotherham could be served. On the Barnsley route, East Midlands trains from St Pancras could be extended through to Wakefield Kirkgate and maybe on to York via Castleford.
Greengauge 21 says Bradford-Sheffield would be in a second phase headed initiate planning. The proposed new station at Horbury would serve Ossett, described as the largest town in Yorkshire without a trains. The proposal not only delivers new connectivity for Bradford, Halifax and the Horbury-Barnsley corridor, but also avoids the inconvenience of indirect travel via Leeds for people heading for South Yorkshire, Midlands and beyond. The new service could be extended to the East Midlands, maybe Leicester.
These are feasible ideas that the would allow the railway to make progress, and passengers to feel the benefit, years, maybe decades before plans, still being considered, for new high speed routes come to fruition.
Reinstating tracks along the Crigglestone curve would be a relatively minor piece of engineering. Not as sexy as a new high speed line, but almost as useful!
So we could, just maybe, see Bradford-Sheffield trains coming through Halifax in about 10 years time. HADRAG will certainly be campaigning for that. We have already suggested the possibility of the service through Brighouse is increased one train an hour could go to Wakefield and on to York. Maybe trains to Barnsley and Sheffield could complement that. See our updated policy paper below.
Mass-transit – get your thoughts in by 16 January!
Header Image: They’ve had them for decades! When will it be West Yorkshire’s turn? Karlsruhe, Germany: tram-trains run on street or heavy-rail tracks. More recent examples can be seen in South Yorkshire!
West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s mass transit plans have been refined. There is a new, short consultation which closes two weeks into the new year – your opportunity to support progress but also to raise concerns. From HADRAG viewpoint main concerns might be how mass transit will complement existing transport including heavy rail, coupled with how long we shall have to wait for the trams (light rail), tram trains ultra-light rail or advanced buses that might eventually come our way. Phase 1 options not surprisingly centre on Bradford and Leeds, with light rail in the lead for East Leeds, Leeds-Bradford, and Leeds-Heckmondwike-Dewsbury. A fourth phase 1 proposal links Bradford with the Spen Valley and Dewsbury – mode still to be specified. Later phases could bring the system to north Halifax via Queensbury and on through Elland and Brighouse. The consultation can be found at this link: Have your say on the West Yorkshire Mass Transit Vision 2040 | Your Voice (westyorks-ca.gov.uk).
Surely there is little doubt that improving and developing our regional heavy rail network – existing lines! – can deliver benefits earlier than either still-to-be-developed mass transit or very long term, very uncertain high speed lines. Benefits will be different for different people. And the will of central government needs to be there. West Yorkshire Combined Authority has a strong rail team and the next draft rail study is out late spring (after the May local elections we guess). There is talk of infrastructure expansion: things like passing loops in the Calder Valley hopefully more ambitious than the now shelved (we think) scheme to facilitate diversions during TransPennine Route upgrade works. Our impression is that HADRAG’s ambitions chime at least in part with those of the combined authority. Better services for more stations!
Header Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 File:Heilbronn Bahnhofsvorplatz Stadtbahn01 2002-09-08.jpg. Under creative commons Share-Alike_License
HADRAG’s Autumn-Winter Diary
The new weekday timetable started on December 12th. Hourly Bradford-Huddersfield and Halifax-Hull trains restored. But on the first day one in four of the latter was cancelled. On the second day we were into a week, of strikes. This is not the place to discuss the rights and wrongs of industrial action; HADRAG has never done that – but it’s not just workers in the rail industry who are angry is it? Friday 16th trip to York by bus (change at Leeds, 3½ hour journey). Sunday 18th, not a strike day, two HADRAG members travelled back from York – but no Northern trains at all on the Calder Valley line (much-maligned TransPennine Express to the rescue). Same six days later on Christmas Eve – no CV line service. (Genuine staffing problems, corporate tantrum or government edict?) Apart from that, Week 2 of the timetable had gone reasonably well.
In November we had a successful second HADRAG general meeting of the year. We thank Cllr Colin Hutchinson, one of Calderdale’s representatives on West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s transport committee who gave us cause to be hopeful about the forthcoming rail strategy. We really do hope that WYCA’s proposals will meet at least some of our aspirations. The present Calder Valley service may be back to “normal” – but normal is far from adequate considering the potential of stations like Sowerby Bridge, Brighouse and future Elland, each serving a population matching valley Hebden Bridge and Todmorden combined. Mytholmroyd also needs more trains. Walsden only has hourly trains off peak. Reliability needs improving (though Northern does a lot better than TPE). HADRAG’s aspirations paper at this link: Ideas for Calder Valley service upgrades: HADRAG updates after meeting – Halifax and District Rail Action Group .
We have been assured Elland should be open by 2025 though there remains a concern that work on the TransPennine Route Upgrade could be a spanner in the works. We shall keep pressing for progress. 2025 will be 25 years late but nonetheless welcome.
There may be a fight on for vital ticket offices, and for guards on trains.
HADRAG’s committee will be considering future meeting patterns. We need to talk about Halifax station ideas early in 2023. Then later in the spring discussion of the West Yorkshire rail strategy could follow. We need more members to get involved.
Please send feedback on this newsletter. Wishing you a continuing happy Christmas (well under way by time you read this) and…
… a peaceful, hopeful ride into 2023! – JSW
Header Image: “frosty morning on the train tracks” flickr photo by TriggerHappyDave https://flickr.com/photos/fromthefrontend/5220598904 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
Ideas for Calder Valley service upgrades: HADRAG updates after meeting
HADRAG members had a great meeting with Cllr Colin Hutchinson at the end of November. Massive thanks to Colin for a great contribution, listening to members ideas and joining the discussion. We look forward to WYCA’s draft rail strategy in 2023.
We have updated our own paper calling for better services at more of our stations including Sowerby Bridge, Brighouse and future Elland. Any one of these three stations potentially serves a population equal to that of upper Calderdale stations combined, but they have a much poorer service. Train frequencies need to be doubled, and decent connections provided – for example so that people from the upper valley can get more easily to Huddersfield. We also think the idea of a new service from Calderdale to Wakefield and York should be explored. Not everyone wants to go to Leeds!
Stations are also a concern. Real fears remain that the government wants to close all booking offices. Yet down at Halifax whenever we visit there is a queue at the window. We also need a return to printed timetables, well distributed so would-be passengers can browse and discover the possibilities of rail travel. These are difficult times with the dispute over not just pay but also conditions – what the railway is going to look like in the future. The only way forward is to expand. See our paper below. JSW:
HADRAG meeting Sat 26 Nov in Halifax to look at creating better rail service along Calder Valley. Call for better deal: a reliable service with gaps filled. After broken promise over Manchester Airport trains we want service doubling at Sowerby Bridge, Brighouse and upcoming Elland stations. Possibilities include services through Wakefield to York, decent links from upper Calderdale to Huddersfield: “not everybody want to go to Leeds!”
LATEST report by HADRAG, the Halifax & District Rail Action Group, calls for an action plan to develop the route with better services, decent frequencies at Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse and an equally good deal for the new station now planned to open at Elland in 2025.
The meeting is on Saturday afternoon 26 November, and is open to all local rail users and others who want to see a better rail deal for Halifax and the Calder Valley line.
Venue is the Oddfellows room, ground floor at 3 Coleridge St, Halifax HX1 2JF, starting at 2.30 pm (tea, coffee etc from 2pm). Directions to venue below.
Speaker will be Councillor Colin Hutchinson, who is a Calderdale council representative on West Yorkshire’s Combined Authority’s Transport Committee. Councillor Hutchinson will talk about WYCA’s rail strategy and join the Q&A discussion.
HADRAG’s has produced its own paper setting out ambitions for the Calder Valley line. No. 1 is a more reliable service. Then easy things like gaps in service at Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd need to be sorted out – Mytholmroyd has no trains to Manchester on Sundays. HADRAG quotes figures showing Sowerby Bridge serves a population equal to that of Hebden Bridge and Todmorden combined – but has about half the number of trains. All trains that stop at the main upper valley stations should also stop at Sowerby Bridge, say the campaigners. The same is true of Brighouse and the planned station at Elland.
Elland is now due to open in 2025.
Brighouse and future Elland have just one train an hour on two routes. HADRAG calls for a business case based on population served and housing development, to double that frequency, to have better connections between upper Calderdale and Huddersfield, and maybe open up a new route from Calderdale through Wakefield and Castleford to York. Not everybody wants to go to Leeds! And a lower-valley service would also benefit Wakefield which has poor rail links towards and across the Pennines.
Bradford and Calderdale were let down by the broken promise of regular trains to Manchester Airport serving workplaces, hospitals, universities and leisure attractions on the south side of the city. HADRAG says better services via the Brighouse route could link up to Manchester Piccadilly station.
We shall also be restating the case for CV line electrification (www.electriccharter.wordpress.com).
Read HADRAG’s paper in our box below.
And come to our meeting on Saturday. Doors open 2pm for 2.30 start. The Oddfellows room is on corner of Coleridge St, just off Prescott Street below Skircoat Road (A629 towards Huddersfield) in Halifax – 5 minutes’ walk from Halifax town centre. All welcome: see you there!