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.

Elland Latest

Elland station of course is not just a rail station, but a whole local package.

The access package received planning approval last September. Planning permission for the station is pending with a long list of documents on the planning department website (refs 21/00824/FUL for the station & 21/00017/LAA for the access package).

To reach the elevated platforms users will have a choice of stairs, lifts or ramps. The car park will have  12 blue badge spaces and 15 EV-charge spaces among 100-plus in total. Proposed access between car park and north side platform has been improved.

“FBC” (full business case) milestone should be later this year, with completion of the station in 2024. Network Rail, Northern Trains, and WY Combined Authority are all involved alongside Calderdale and consultants. Our Northern contact is involved in discussions and reports no major cause for concern. Trains on both Bradford-Huddersfield and Wigan-Brighouse-Leeds trains will call.

HADRAG wants to see service frequency doubled. Campaigners were disappointed when Brighouse reopened 22 years ago, Elland having been dropped. Now we see White Rose station moving ahead. So there is frustration that we are still not – quite – there.

Elland Progress

Elland station plans are with Calderdale planning department awaiting approval as we write this.

With a linked access package involving new foot and cycle links along the canal bank to Greetland already approved, we still hope the station will open in about 18 months’ time – if not less. The station will be on the embankment next to Lowfields business park, close to Morrison’s, housing, and around Elland Lane and Lower Edge Road, the Calderdale Way main road and local bus stops. Clear potential exists to serve a wide surrounding area.

Latest plans show ramped access to the platforms, as well as stairs and lifts.

Elland On Track – We Hope

As the pandemic goes from wave to wave, we can be certain of nothing. But we understand Elland station is still planned to open “on time” (debatable concept) before 2023. There is an obvious interface with “TRU”, that long-awaited (not as long as Elland) Trans-Pennine (Huddersfield) route upgrade. So when the Huddersfield line is “under possession” for track remodelling or electrification TP Expresses will be diverted, and at times this will mean using the Brighouse and Elland route. The worry was that with TRU works due to start, who knows quite when, this could mean Elland being delayed. So we added this to a list of concerns in a HADRAG letter to Grant Shapps in September. The reply from a Department for Transport official (two months later) said West Yorkshire Combined Authority intends to seek an approval in principle for production of an outline design (outline?) early in 2021, and that WYCA would be expected to work closely with Network Rail, DfT and train operators on coordination with other schemes including TRU, and develop a timescale. Opening “by December 2022” was still the expectation. “Elland first” is surely sensible. We pointed out that when Huddersfield station is out of use during works on the big project, Elland – right next to the A629 – could be an ideal alternative railhead for Huddersfield passengers. The DfT did not respond to that, but more local contacts suggest the idea is under consideration.

Elland station will not only serve commuters (however many of them there are in the post-Covid future), but with a package of active travel links will be ideal for the local community and visitors seeking leisure on foot or cycle in our beautiful valley. This, surely, is just what we need to rebuild and repurpose our railway.

Elland Station: Progress and Questions

When it comes to investing public money you can’t “just do it”. Every project must jump a course of hoops. Elland station’s Outline Business Case is due to be signed off at West Yorkshire Combined Authority as we write this. Detailed plans should now be developed and Full Business Case (FBC) is due by the end of next year, allowing work to start in 2021. That puts station opening in Spring 2022. We have some concerns about how the project might be affected by the TransPennine Route Upgrade. TRU is the

Huddersfield Line electrification and capacity project, a “CP6” scheme, meaning Network Rail’s 2019-24 control period. Work on TRU will mean blockades — weekends and probably some longer periods — of the line through Huddersfield, in turn meaning diversion of TransPennine Express trains via our Calder Valley line through Brighouse and Elland. We really hope this will not mean Network Rail saying “We can’t stop trains at Elland because we need to run too many diverted services along the route”. CP6 begins in a few weeks but, lacking a communicative fly on the wall at Network Rail HQ, it is still not clear what work will be scheduled when. If the works run till 2024 could it mean a two-year delay for Elland? Surely that must not be acceptable. We have waited long enough for a station originally envisaged as part of Brighouse line reopening nearly 20 years ago. But what if there were another possibility? With major works to put up electrification structures, and – we very much hope -add extra tracks, Huddersfield station could be temporarily closed for significant periods. So could Elland be a convenient alternative railhead for Huddersfield passengers? And so could there be a good argument for bringing the Elland project forward and opening the station sooner rather than later? HADRAG has asked the questions; we shall press for answers.