Paused, Unpaused…But What About Our Line?

Put on a back burner – paused – by Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin on June 25th and unpaused (similarly) on September 30th, we speak of the Midland Main Line and Trans-Pennine electrification projects. Trans-Pennine means the Huddersfield Line, not to be confused with any other cross-Pennine route including our Calder Valley Line. Network Rail’s new troubleshooting chair Sir Peter Hendy has told the Government he now thinks the Huddersfield line can be “wired” by 2022 – four years later than originally projected. So, back on the front burner, heat’s being turned up slowly. The hope is for a better project with wider benefits.

In November Sir Peter should deliver his review of 2014-19 projects. HADRAG wants to be assured about promised Calder Valley Line speed and capacity enhancements, part of the “Northern Hub”. The winning bidder for the Northern train-operation franchise should be announced before Christmas, their remit to deliver upgraded services to new destinations before 2020. The tracks and signals on our line need to be made ready for that.

HADRAG has written twice to both Government and Network Rail. The top-ranked recommendation of the Northern electrification taskforce to electrify the CVL by 2024 is a promise the Department for Transport and the railway must keep.

Enviably New Modern Train!

  • good as new after 15 years in service;
  • high-powered for 90/100mph running, hill-climbing and acceleration from stops;
  • quieter and greener than a diesel;
  • recently fitted with free wi-fi.

This is not some rich southern route but just over our West Yorkshire hills. Lines between Leeds, Ilkley, Skipton and Bradford Forster Sq (scene of this pic) were electrified 20 years ago, when good old bad old British Rail was handing over its physical network to Railtrack, and Regional Railways North East lived out its final years of state ownership. West Yorkshire Metro (reflected in the red livery) was abiding force for development – and still is today as Combined Authority. But in an early case of the North making do with cast-offs, electrified Airedale & Wharfedale services started with 25 year old slam-door stock no longer good enough for Essex commuters. So when the pictured Class 333 arrived brand new in 2000 it was a big quality leap. These trains are designed with high-density interiors for short commuting trips but contrast strikingly with old fashioned 1980s stock used for longer journeys on the Calder Valley line.

Our turn for modern trains is surely due.

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