HADRAG, The Halifax & District Rail Action Group, will welcoming any rail users, actual and would-be, at the group’s annual meeting on Saturday afternoon 13 May 2017 at the OrangeBox centre, Halifax HX1 1AF; doors open 13:00 (1pm) for 13:20 start. Topping the bill as keynote speaker will be Paul Barnfield who is Regional Director (East) at Arriva Rail North – the train company we know as Northern. Paul will give a presentation on progress and plans for transformation of train services through Halifax and along the Calder Valley under the train operating franchise that has now been running for a year. Paul expects to be joined by colleague Richard Isaac who is Northern’s community and sustainability manager for our area.
Big things are expected, with Calder Valley trains running via a brand new railway to reach the south side of Manchester by the end of this year. Promises for May 2018 include trains to Chester, earlier and later trains on the routes through Brighouse, and, 18 months sooner than expected, through trains to Manchester Airport. We are also hoping for good news for one or two of our line’s “Cinderella” stations including Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd. Northern is now consulting stakeholders on its May 2018 timetable proposals, and HADRAG will be making detailed comments, suggesting areas for further improvement as well as welcoming what is certainly looking like good news.
But with talk of new destinations beyond the big cities, regular users of our peak hour trains may be wondering what is to be done about conditions of overcrowding regularly endured by Calderdale commuters to and from Leeds and Manchester. The franchise promise is an increase in peak hour capacity of more than a third before 2020, including brand new trains for most Calder Valley Line services. Do we think this will be enough? And can anything be done to relieve conditions whilst we are waiting for the promised transformation?
Meanwhile decisions are due soon on transformative plans for Halifax station (pictured at bottom of this post), hopefully making it into the gateway to the town that HADRAG called for years ago. Ambitious ideas aim at a station, not just enabled to deal with growing numbers of local people using the train, but fit also to deal with big crowds attending events at the Piece Hall, fit indeed for continuing growth in rail travel for the next 50 years. There will be an opportunity for HADRAG members and rail passengers to comment on the developing plans at our meeting on May 13th.
Finally, our Elland next campaign remains high on HADRAG’s agenda. Plans are progressing for a station to serve what arguably is Yorkshire’s biggest urban area without a rail service. The catchment area for Elland, including Greetland and Stainland, encompasses a population of over 20,000. We want a commitment from Northern and Network Rail to include Elland in the December 2019 timetable.
-JSW (updated 12.v.17)