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.
HADRAG welcomes this summer’s major step forward in planning Elland station as an ambitious transport hub, and calls for the Northern train operator to rise to the challenge of upgrading train services on the line. We say with a decent timetable Elland-Leeds by train could take just over 20 minutes.MORE BELOW…
In June the combined authority’s West Yorkshire and York investment committee recommended allocation of up to £22million from the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund (WY+TF) to an ambitious project that should make the new station at Elland a local transport hub, with pedestrian, bus, park & ride and cycle links, by 2022.
This is a major step forward for Elland, the town that has been waiting for its own railway station since Brighouse opened 17 years ago. The scheme will now move forward towards the next hurdle, outline business case, which should be completed by the end of next year. By then the project will have achieved what Network Rail calls “GRIP 4” – single option development, with detailed design (GRIP 5) following over the next two years.
The £22M (which includes allowance for 20% overrun in delivery costs) buys considerably more than just a simple train station. The key elements of the ambitious project are:
The new station itself, located at Lowfields Way. This would be next to the big “figure of eight” roundabout off the A629 bypass road;
Pedestrian, cycle and public realm improvements to link the new station to Elland town centre as well as to surrounding areas of planned employment and housing growth;
New footbridge over the River Calder. This will link to the Calder Valley Greenway on the canal bank (Route 66). It will also give good links to the station from the north and west where the Local Plan suggests significant housing growth. Current employers in the area could also benefit with opportunities for “intensification” of activity;
New bus infrastructure to enable bus-train interchange at the station, providing sustainable access from a wider catchment area; and
Dedicated station car park and highway access to bring in park & ride to bring in passengers from existing and new housing area around the periphery of the town.
This sounds very much like the sort of local transport hub that HADRAG called for just four years ago after we held our 2013 annual meeting in Elland .
We understand the car park could be built on two levels, and hope bus operators will be persuaded to provide services linking the station and all the surrounding communities. Sustainable commuting and leisure also look to be encouraged by the scheme. We look forward to being able to access the station on foot or with a bike from the canalside “green” route.
The station also has an obvious potential role in hospital transport for staff, patients and visitors. Could shuttle buses linking the two NHS sites at Calderdale (Salterhebble) and Huddersfield (Lindley) be developed to call at Elland station?
In terms of the local community, HADRAG says Elland station, with good park & ride and sustainable transport links should be seen as serving not just Elland itself but also Greetland and Stainland, a total “Greater Elland” population of more than 20,000. As such the station will have a catchment as populous as the areas served by stations like Brighouse or Sowerby Bridge. In fact we reckon any one of Sowerby Bridge, Elland or Brighouse stations potentially serves as big a population as the two main upper Calderdale stations – Todmorden and Hebden Bridge – combined.
Upper valley-Elland-Brighouse rail corridor: we hope for timetable improvements!
But of course Todmorden and Hebden Bridge, along with Halifax, currently have almost double the train service level of either Sowerby Bridge or Brighouse. Sowerby Bridge (and Mytholmroyd) should see some improvement next year with the Blackpool-York trains stopping. We really hope Northern will build on that at the end of 2019 when the next big timetable recast comes. And of course HADRAG continues to argue the case with train operator Northern for a better deal for the Brighouse corridor. In our response to Northern’s timetable plans we have specifically asked for future timetables to include make allowance for all trains that currently stop at Brighouse also to serve Elland. We have also want the Manchester-Rochdale-Brighouse-Leeds “valley bottom service” to run later at night and on Sundays, something that does not, so far, seem to feature in Northern’s plans.
As an ambitious transport hub, Elland station will be another reason to upgrade the timetable. Opening 22 years after neighbouring Brighouse, the new station may still seem frustratingly in the future. But at least by 2022 we hope there may be further timetable improvements. Under the existing service patterns, Elland would be served by hourly trains on the Manchester-Brighouse-Leeds and Huddersfield-Bradford-Leeds routes, effectively an hourly stopping service to key destinations. We have joined our colleagues in the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group in calling for a service from the upper Calder Valley to Huddersfield, meeting commuting, educational and other sources of demand. That would give an additional service along the Sowerby Bridge-Elland-Brighouse corridor. But we also need better services Elland/Brighouse-Leeds.
Potential for fast journey to Leeds
We want Northern, Network Rail and their train planners to rise to the challenge of providing an upgraded timetable for Elland/Brighouse rail corridor. It probably needs some capacity improvements in the Huddersfield and Mirfield area as well as a more ambitious approach by the train operator.
Finally, HADRAG has repeatedly, over may years, pointed out the potential to speed up trains on the direct Brighouse-Dewsbury-Leeds route. At present Brighouse-Leeds takes about 34 minutes, calling at nearly all stations. So that would be 37-38 minutes from Elland. A fast service, with maybe just intermediate stop, would easily cut the Brighouse-Leeds journey to 20 minutes. So stations all the way up the valley would get a Leeds service that could be 10-15 minutes faster than at present. Elland-Leeds could be about 23 minutes.
What could go wrong? One complication is the TransPennine Route Upgrade. This is the project that was meant to include Huddersfield Line electrification, though it sounds increasingly as though it may not. With or without electrification there is likely to be upgrade work to improve capacity that will mean diversions of TransPennine Express via the Calder Valley line while the work is going on. The plan seems to be that this will be completed before Elland opens. Fingers crossed, then. -JSW
Campaigners in HADRAG, the Halifax & District Rail Action Group, are calling for Elland to be next new railway station in West Yorkshire following opening of Low Moor earlier this month. We want the Northern train operator (Arriva Rail North) and Network Rail (who oversee tracks and timetables) to declare their commitment to Elland station and ensure provision is made for trains to stop in new timetables planned for the next 2-3 years. Meanwhile we continue to argue for a better deal for Calder Valley stations currently missed out by “semi-fast” or “express” services. We say Brighouse and Sowerby Bridge deserve something more like the service level and quality enjoyed by Hebden Bridge and Todmorden. More below:
Low Moor station is on the Calder Valley Line between Halifax and Bradford. HADRAG joined with other groups including the Bradford rail users (BRUG), and the Friends of Low Moor Station (FOLMS) in celebrating the first trains at Low Moor station on the first Sunday in April (02/04/17). Low Moor is served by hourly trains on the Leeds-Bradford-Halifax-Brighouse-Huddersfield route. It also has intercity services to London operated by the Grand Central open access operator. With the other groups, HADRAG wants to see a better service at the new station and we hope a Manchester service can be arranged to stop every hour by the end of 2019.
December 2019 is the second of two big timetable change dates when services are expected to be transformed under the Northern trains franchise under Arriva. By then Bradford-Manchester should have 3 trains/hour (compared with 2/hour at present) and we say that should be an opportunity to boost the service at intermediate stations, not just provide an extra fast train that misses out a lot of stops.
If increasing usage is the measure (Office of Road and Rail station usage statistics, 2016), Brighouse and Sowerby Bridge should be the Calder Valley Line’s top two stations. (See also our newsletter piece: Two Cinderella stations again top table!)
Usage of Sowerby Bridge station has risen steadily and now stands at 392,000 passengers/year, an increase of 132% on ten years ago. Although passenger numbers are historically higher at Hebden and Tod, their ten-year percentage increase is somewhat less than Sowerby Bridge’s. Sowerby Bridge station serves not just the town itself but also the Ryburn valley and the eastern side of Luddendenfoot. This represents a catchment area of more than 20,000 population, and probably more than that of Hebden Bridge and Todmorden combined. Yet the basic half-hourly service at Sowerby Bridge is only about half the frequency enjoyed by the upper valley stations. HADRAG continues to argue that all of the York-Blackpool semi-fast trains should call at Sowerby Bridge (at present just a few do at peak hours). We also say that when an extra service every hour is introduced between Bradford and Manchester at the end of 2019, that train should also serve Sowerby Bridge.
Brighouse line – and Elland! Brighouse has an even better case for more trains, but apart from some increase to peak hour and Sunday services to be introduced by May 2018, little extra seems to be promised for Brighouse under the Northern franchise. This is in stark contrast to Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden on the Bradford-Manchester route which will benefit from “Northern Connect” branded regional express services by 2019. Like Sowerby Bridge, Brighouse serves a population covering at least two local council wards – 20,000 plus. The ORR’s figures show a ten-year increase of 476% at Brighouse station which now sees footfall of over 400,000 entries and exits annually. No better than Sowerby Bridge, Brighouse’s best local service frequency is hourly on each of two routes (Leeds-Brighouse-Todmorden-Manchester and Leeds-Bradford-Brighouse-Huddersfield). The Sunday service is at present 2-hourly (on the Bradford route only); the commitment is to increase this to hourly. HADRAG has been pressing for a speed-up of the Leeds-Brighouse-Manchester trains which we say should also run on Sundays. We hope that changes to stopping patterns may see these trains running semi-fast west of Todmorden in the next year or so. A few peak-hour trains on the Brighouse-Manchester route are planned to run non-stop Rochdale-Manchester from December 2017. We do not yet know whether this will become the pattern for all of these trains. Beyond 2019 and Northern’s initial franchise commitments we hope that the Brighouse-Leeds service will also be improved with fast or semi-fast operation. Non-stop running time Brighouse-Leeds is about 17 minutes but the current stopping service takes double this time. This is very much an area where we expect the train operator to deliver beyond its basic franchise commitment.
Which brings us to Elland, one of the top three sites in the West and North Yorkshire new stations study (now getting on for three years ago). The October 2014 Atkins report forecast demand at Elland as 240,000 annually. In the latest feasibility studies, consultants report a strong business case and confirm the buildability of an impressive-looking new station on the strategic site next to the A629 and Lowfields. HADRAG believes this could work well as a park and ride serving the whole “Greater Elland” settlement – again, a population of 20,000 plus. We understand the money for building Elland station (price-tag maybe £14 million) could come from West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund, though there may be further hoops to jump before that can happen.
And the train timetable must be designed to allow trains to stop at Elland. So HADRAG calls on the Northern train operator (Arriva Rail North) and on Network Rail to declare their commitment now to operating Elland station with a good train service. Every local train that stops at Brighouse must also stop at Elland! There looks to be slack in the current timetable to allow that to happen but obviously with major timetable recasts in May 2018 and December 2019 that allowance must also be built in for the future. Faster line speeds on the Bradford-Manchester route and hopefully a semi-fast pattern for the Brighouse-Manchester trains should make this easier. The railway – train operators and infrastructure managers – should commit to this without further delay or equivocation. What’s to stop them? HADRAG is clear that after massively successful Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge, and now Low Moor:
Kirkstall Forge station opened in June to serve a major business and residential development in the Aire Valley and has an hourly service mainly of Ilkley trains. It surely goes without saying that this frequency must be increased. The screens were not working when we called but the ticket machine gave train running information.
Up the valley Apperley Bridge opened last December with half-hourly Bradford Forster Square and Leeds trains, very much a park & ride with a new access road off the A658. It felt like a trek from the village on foot but a full 100-space car park was evidence of success. Apperley Bg has ramped access to the platforms (KLF has lifts).
West Yorkshire new and reopened stations go back 43 years to the opening of Baildon station way back in January 1973, actually a year before WY “Metro” came into being. Two members of the crowd for the first train later became early HADRAG members! Baildon is between Guiseley and Shipley served by half-hourly Ilkley-Bradford electric trains on the Wharfedale Line
Brighouse opened in May 2000 of course. And with Low Moor now under construction we are increasingly optimistic the county’s next new station could be at Elland.
The unloved”Pacer”at Brighouse will be gone by 2019. What will replace it? Great news that under the new Arriva franchise most Calderdale stations will see brand new trains on “Northern Connect”services to York, Blackpool, Liverpool, Chester and Manchester Airport. But it looks like Northern Connect will bypass Brighouse. On the plus side,
Leeds-Brighouse-Manchester stopping trains are expected to be extended to Southport and should get millennium-vintage “Turbostar”trains in 2-3 years time. The promise is that everything not new will be refurbished to top modern quality with free wi-fi, and improved access and toilets. Expect 30 year-old”Sprinters”looking like new-it’s not impossible!
HADRAG, the group that fought to get brighouse station reopened 16 years ago has released a report advocating a better deal. Capacity around Huddersfield and Mirfield prevents new operator Arriva from increasing services along the Brighouse line. But HADRAG says the Manchester trains should be speeded up as”semi-fasts”exploiting Turbostar performance. Longer term we want track authority Network Rail to build in extra capacity as it electrifies the Huddersfield line so that more trains can run through Brighouse to Huddersfield, Mirfield and beyond. HADRAG has always said a fast Brighouse-Mirfield-Leeds train could cut journey time from 35 to 20 minutes. And the Brighouse Line timetable must be designed to include stops at planned Elland station.
Sowerby Bridge also has a good case for more trains. HADRAG argues all York-Blackpool”Northern Connects” should stop there, plus the extra Manchester-Bradford trains due to start in 2019. We believe our ideas are sensible and achievable. And we believe Arriva, Rail North and the other “powers that be”are listening to us.