Physical evidence of improvement, new lineside objects appear by the Calder Valley railway. No real mystery, this example at Hebden Bridge is one of numerous new signals due to be commissioned this Autumn (though rumoured to be running late). Resignalling will eliminate long “block” sections reducing delays, and allow more trains to run at higher line speeds, cutting journey times.
On the day the Ordsall Chord opened last December, a Calder Valley train from Manchester Oxford Road leaves Deansgate station. Ours is the first service to use the new line, hourly on Sundays and a few trains continuing round the chord during the week. These trains will be extended to Manchester Airport, every hour, early morning till late night, when Northern has enough trains to do it.
The Oxford Rd service calls at Deansgate, useful for workplaces, Castlefield attractions, and trams to Altrincham and MediaCityUK.
But when our trains go on to the Airport it seems they’ll trundle through Deansgate non-stop. The two track section through to Piccadilly is an issue for timetabling. We need those extra platforms at Picc to make room for all the new services round Ordsall and a better timetable for routes across the North.
We hope the DfT has got the message.
Summer update: Part 2 – Elland station good news. Ambitious transport hub is another reason to upgrade Brighouse Line timetable!
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
Lansdslip, Signal Woes
Commuters reported confusion down at the station after another landslip at Salterhebble blocked the Halifax-Sowerby Bridge route in early March. Trains were diverted Sowerby-Leeds via Brighouse, and a limited Leeds-Halifax/Huddersfield service was maintained, so canny users could get a train to Brighouse and pick up diverted services there (though a separate problem in East Lancs delayed Blackpool-York trains). Thankfully Network Rail got the line clear by teatime the day after the landslip. A speed restriction remained in place at time of writing, whilst work continued to stabilise the cutting under Dudwell Lane. We were disappointed more trains were not diverted between Halifax and Sowerby Bridge by reversing at Greetland, which might have maintained a train service Sowerby Bridge-Bradford during the blockage and provided better for Halifax. We think this sort of thing happened in the past, but hear that the signals at Greetland now only allow such a move in one direction. Progress? Perhaps not.
Image courtesy Network Rail Media Centre.
Network Rail Community Information Sessions
From Network Rail
Apologies for the delay in posting this — BBB
As part of the rail investment in the North, Network Rail are investing over £1 billion on targeted upgrades to the rail network, helping to support and grow the regional economy.
The Calder Valley Route Upgrade is part of this investment programme. The route upgrade will deliver faster services and improve connections between key towns and cities across the North.
As part of the upgrade plan, we will be carrying out track and signal upgrades along the Calder Valley route, this will pave the way for faster journeys.
We have already completed the upgrade to signals and track between Manchester Victoria and Littleborough. We are currently working on upgrades between Littleborough and Bradford Interchange.
From 19 March until 15 May 2017 (excluding Easter and Tour de Yorkshire weekends), we will be working weekends to renew and lower track in locations along the route. We’re working closely with train operators to communicate changes to services with passengers and advising passengers to check before you travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk
We understand that our work will also impact on communities (especially people who live and work nearby the railway); we will notify in advance of working, explain what work is planned and when we expect our work to be noisy.
We’re working with businesses, local authorities, media and politicians to make sure the general public know what is happening and when.
We are holding a series of community information sessions about the Calder Valley Route Upgrade; we would like to invite you to attend. Representatives from Network Rail and our contractors will be on hand to answer any questions about this planned work.
Date / Times
Wednesday 01 March 2017
16:00 – 19:00
18:00 – presentation
The MBI Shay Stadium, Shaw Hill, Halifax, HX1 2YT
Wednesday 08 March 2017
16:00 – 19:00
18:00 – presentation
Mytholmroyd Community & Leisure Centre,Caldene Ave, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge HX7 5AF
Wednesday 15 March 2017
16:00 – 19:00
18:00 – presentation
St Pauls Methodist Church, Tower Hill, Sowerby Bridge HX6 2EQ
Monday 27 March 2017
16:00 – 19:00
18:00 – presentation
Hebden Town Hall, St George’s St, Hebden Bridge HX7 7BY
Header Image: Network Rail 950001 – Oakenshaw South Curve flickr photo by Wakefield & Beyond Transport Photos shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license
Aspirations for more
Network Rail’s HADRAG presentation was about projects in the current 2014-19 control period (CP5) and our guests preferred not to be drawn on any more ambitious aspirations that might be considered in the future. There are obvious projects, some that we have called for in the past and that our friends in the UCV Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group included in a list of priorities published a year ago. Much of this is not so much investment in new railways but more about restoring valuable infrastructure short-sightedly taken away over the last few decades, such as:
- Loops/four tracking between Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd to allow freight trains to be overtaken.
- Putting back four tracks in the Huddersfield/Mirfield/Dewsbury area creating capacity for more trains through Brighouse as well as on the Huddersfield line.
- Halifax platform 3 as through loop.
- The “Crigglestone Curve” linking the lower Calder Valley and Barnsley routes for a service through Brighouse to Sheffield —advocated years ago by HADRAG!
- And of course CVL electrification via both Bradford and Brighouse.
Track and signalling works target journey time and capacity
Network Rail managers joined members and friends of Halifax & District Rail Action Group at our December open committee meeting at Halifax Town Hall. Vanessa Conway (project sponsor) and Salim Patel (project manager) presented on the Calder Valley Route upgrade, the project that will enable higher line speeds and increased capacity between Bradford and Manchester. Completion is due by Autumn 2018.
Funded by farepayers, taxpayers and property income, and with 35,000 of its own staff, Network Rail is the effectively nationalised agency that owns and operates Britain’s rail infrastructure — maintaining, renewing, replacing and enhancing. Regulated by ORR, the Office of Rail & Road, it also coordinates and manages the railway timetable between different passenger and freight operators.
Britain’s rail infrastructure comprises 20,000miles of track, 32,000 bridges and tunnels and 8200 commercial properties, along with 2500 stations the operation of which is largely devolved to train operators. Passenger demand nationally grew by 100% over the last 20 years and is expected to double again by 2041 alongside freight growth of 90%. In the North, rail investment is seen as part wider transformation under the Transport for the North banner. Long term, this means “Northern Powerhouse Rail” and a new line across the pennines, but in the meantime smaller schemes like the Calder Valley Line enhancements, radiating from the Manchester-centred “Northern Hub” are essential to get more trains carrying more passengers at higher speed.
West Complete, East Ongoing
The Calder Valley upgrade falls into several parts. Journey time interventions (JTI) involve upgrading track for higher speed at various points between Manchester and Bradford. The boundary between Network Rail “LNE” and “LNW” so-called “routes” – the old regional boundary west of Hebden Bridge is an administrative dividing line. The “West” project ending at Todmorden has been completed over the last year and includes a new west-facing bay platform, now operational, at Rochdale station as well as higher speed limits which are now in place. The Rochdale “turnback” platform will allow trains from the west terminating at Rochdale to layover in the station clear of the main lines increasing capacity and reducing delays for through CVL services. North-west trains that currently terminate at Manchester Victoria station will increasingly come through to Rochdale and to Stalybridge in turn releasing platform capacity at “Vic”. And of course by the end of 2019 most Calder Valley Manchester trains will be running through to/from Chester, Liverpool, Southport or Manchester Airport.
Work has also now started on the “East” interventions from Hebden Bridge to Bradford. HADRAG is seeking further clarification on certain details for example precise linespeed improvements. We understand however that the aim is, by the end of 2018, to increase general line maxima from 60mph (Hebden-Halifax) and 55mph (Halifax-Bradford) to at least the “70” that already rules on the West section. Intermediate speed restrictions, for example at Milner Royd Junction seem likely to remain for the time being though there seems to be a possibility Milner Royd could be remodelled in a future project. It does seem, however that the 30mph restricted approach to Halifax from Shaw Lodge will be improved as part of the current scheme. Works to be carried out include, at various points, track lowering or slewing to improve alignment, work in tunnels, new track and re-railing. “Route hardening” will improve the quality and resilience of track and signals.
Network Rail’s presentation also included the new station at Low Moor (by May’17), and access-for-all works at Hebden Bridge with new lifts and platform level access (by end of 2018).
Signalling and Capacity
Huddersfield to Bradford resignalling is a slight misnomer because in order to deliver Manchester-Bradford capacity improvements the work must extend to Hebden Bridge. Traditional signalboxes at Hebden Bridge, Milner Royd, Halifax and Bradford Mill Lane will become redundant with control transferred to the rail operating centre (ROC) at York. Work starts this March and is in two stages, both to be completed by October 2018. Stage 1 is to bring existing signals around Huddersfield and as far west as Greetland Junction under York ROC. Stage 2 is enhanced signalling of the CVL section from Hebden Bridge through Halifax to Bradford. When this is complete trains will be able to operate at 4 minute headways all the way from Manchester to Bradford. This does not, of course, mean 15 trains an hour! What it does mean is more signals between Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge, and between Halifax and Bradford, reducing delays caused by existing long sections and allowing a significant increase in frequency without compromising punctuality. Currently, for example, a train can not proceed from Halifax to Bradford until the one in front has passed a signal nearly 4 miles ahead at Wyke; the enhancements deal with this.
Linked with the resignalling are two additional crossover tracks to be installed at Bradford to allow up to three simultaneous parallel movements in/out of the Interchange station where, famously, all trains reverse in order to continue their journey.
“East” linespeeds will be raised when the new signalling is ready. All should be done by 20 October 2018. Journey time “fast” Bradford-Manchaester with four intermediate stops should come down from current 58-61 minutes to 53-54 minutes, probably at the end of 2018. This may not seem spectacular and is a bit less ambitious than everyone originally hoped but it is a marketable improvement. The journey time estimate is based on current (Class 158) trains; there’s hope the new CAF trains (Class 195) ordered by Arriva may perform better. More important perhaps are the capacity improvements that will lead to more frequent services, starting with Northern’s commitment under the Arriva franchise to an extra Bradford-Manchester train every daytime hour through to the Airport 7 days a week by the end of 2019. We hope more will follow.
The HADRAG meeting with Network Rail, a public body sometimes criticised for being less than public-facing, was at their initiative.
We are grateful to Network Rail for that, and look forward to developing the relationship in the future.
History in the making? The scene looking north-east(-ish) from Halifax station hints tantalisingly at the future. Observant Leeds-bound passengers know that if the signal at the end of the platform shows a yellow (never amber on the railway!), they’ll be crawling to a halt at a red just this side of Beacon Hill Tunnel. A preceding train has to pass the signal nearly 4 miles away at Wyke before the next can go. Network Rail’s resignalling scheme over the next 18 months aims to sort the problem, allowing trains at closer headways all the way from Manchester to Bradford, meaning higher frequencies as well as speeds and—hopefully—better punctuality. It will also make the historic signalbox standing on the former platform redundant as control of the signals is transferred to York. What new use will the old “box” find? The train on the left, a grim old Class 150 unit arriving at Platform 1 for Manchester Victoria, is also going to change and before 2020 will more likely be one of Northern’s brand-new trains now being built by CAF in Spain. The “150” itself, years of life remaining, is promised good-as-new refurbishment. Truly tantalising is the vacant track bed next to the Platform 2 line, with much interest locally in the idea of bringing Platform 3 back into use. Wider development promises to create a transformed gateway between station and town. A third platform would spread the crowds and allow more flexible operation, though we may still have a job on to persuade the railway of its necessity.
History could have been different. Back in the 1980s Halifax & District Rail Action Group started up against a background of shady proposals by British Rail to reduce the line from Sowerby Bridge to Bradford to single track. Ambitions in West Yorkshire put a stop to that idea so that after 30 years of improvement that relied on cut-back infrastructure, we now have a railway that’s not too hard to upgrade, hopefully overcoming current worries to transform services by three years from now.
So, settling in to 2017, we wish HADRAG members and friends, passengers actual and would-be, happy travelling in the future! – JSW
Network Rail has confirmed projects to enable Calder Valley service improvements are programmed for completion over the next three years:
- Calder Valley (West) already started, due for completion by the end of this year — track renewals, bridge strengthening and signalling work for higher line speed and capacity.
- Calder Valley (East), on site next March, for commissioning Dec’18 — various track work Hebden Bridge-Bradford for higher line speed. Increased capacity linked to Huddersfield-Bradford resignalling (which we understand goes right up to Hebden Bridge).
- Bradford Mill Lane Junction capacity — new crossovers to enable more parallel moves and increased services Halifax- Bradford-Leeds. Also due to be commissioned Dec’18.
Network Rail and DfT must keep promises to Calder Valley Line
When Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport announced that the Huddersfield Line and Midland Main Line electrification projects were in a state of pause, HADRAG’s committee had already agreed to write both to the Secretary of State and to bosses of Network Rail. At the end of September, when Mr McLoughlin made his surprise announcement that the two big schemes were to be immediately “unpaused” – but significantly delayed – we wrote again.
Sir Peter Hendy, freshly moved from his old job as Transport for London commissioner to shake up Network Rail as its new chair, is actually still reviewing the whole programme of “CP5” projects originally planned for the 2014-19 “Control Period”. For HADRAG this is not just about electrification of our line which was recommended by the task force earlier this year for CP6 (2019-24), but also about more urgent enhancements between Manchester and Bradford that should be in CP5.
Our latest letter to Patrick McLoughlin and Sir Peter Hendy expounds three wishes:
a) linespeed and capacity upgrades Manchester-Bradford to be delivered as promised to enable more trains and quicker journeys on the CVL before 2020;
b) replanning of Huddersfield Line electrification to include significant capacity increases as well as electrification. We want restoration of four tracks, Huddersfield-Mirfield, to allow CVL services via the Brighouse Line to be increased and speeded up;
c) electrification of the Calder Valley route Leeds-Manchester/Preston via both Bradford and Brighouse to follow straight on after Huddersfield Line wiring is finished in 2022, aiming to keep the 2024 promise of the Northern Electrification Task Force.
Back in June, if you knew anything about current UK rail development, you had known for months that Network Rail was struggling to deliver its ambitious 2014-19 plan that had been sold to a government eager for pre-election good news. It was clear that North-west electrification was running late – it still is. And, we heard, planning work had ground to a halt on Trans-Pennine electrification scheme to extend the wires from Stalybridge via the Standedge Tunnel route to Huddersfield, Leeds and York. We were worried delays to Huddersfield Line electrification could have a knock-on effect on projected improvements including electrification on the Calder Valley Line.
Before HADRAG’s 30th anniversary annual general meeting in May this newsletter reported optimistically on the outcome of the Northern Electrification Task Force. The task force was a cross-party group of MPs, councillors representing Rail North, and officers from Rail North, the Department for Transport (DfT) and Network Rail. Professional work for the task force yielded in spring this year a list of lines recommended to the Secretary of State for electrification in the rail industry’s CP6 – the 2019-24 control period. Just to remind ourselves: in terms of points scored on economic, business and operational criteria Calder Valley Line (CVL) was ranked top of this list.
We say the CVL should follow on immediately after electrification of the Huddersfield Line. Economic and business modelling apart, it is simply common sense. The two routes are closely linked in terms of railway geography and operation. We are a diversionary route for TransPennine Express. Already our Blackpool-York trains run on lines (Blackpool-Preston, Leeds-York) that will be electrified in a few years. Planned services from Bradford should run to Manchester Airport by the end of 2019, probably with regional express branding, again over already electrified lines in south Manchester. In short it makes no sense not to electrify the CVL straight after the Huddersfield line with the teams that erect the masts and string up the overhead wires simply moving round the curve to get started on our line.
Maybe Huddersfield Line and Calder Valley Line electrification should be seen as a single project to be completed by the end of CP6. Whether Network Rail will see it that way is another matter.
Early essentials for Calder Valley as prelude to electrification
But there are other essential and more immediate enhancements required if the new Northern franchise (taking over next spring) is to deliver promised timetable improvements. The specification demands: extension of a Calder Valley service every hour to Chester via Warrington (from December 2017), and from 2019 an extra fast train hourly Bradford-Manchester with (as mentioned) through running to Manchester Airport. (The Airport service also requires the Ordsall Chord to be built in, a matter only very recently resolved in the courts) To facilitate the Calder Valley improvements as part of the wider Northern Hub development, we understand plans are already drawn up with funding both from Network Rail’s resources and (via West Yorkshire Combined Authority) from the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund for the following:
- line-speed improvements, Manchester-Bradford. Current limits of 70mph west of Hebden Bridge, 60 as far as Halifax, then 55 to Bradford could, we understand, be raised to 75 or 85mph.
- capacity improvements Hebden Bridge to Bradford with new signals so trains can run at closer headways.
- remodelling Milner Royd Junction, where Bradford and Brighouse routes diverge east of Sowerby Bridge, allowing existing 40mph speed restrictions to be raised.
These enhancements are considered urgent for another reason. When Huddersfield Line electrification does go ahead there will be a need to use the line via Brighouse and Hebden Bridge for diversions. So capacity and speed improvements round our way really should precede a start of serious engineering work on the Huddersfield TransPennine route.
Our first letter went to Patrick McLoughlin and also both to Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne and Sir Peter Hendy. We pressed the case for the Manchester-Bradford CP5 enhancements to go ahead, and, in CP6, for electrification of our line to follow the Huddersfield Line. We received fairly prompt replies during July, from a DfT official in response to our letter to the Secretary of State, and from Network Rail boss Mark Carne himself. Both were brief but reasonably positive in tone. Not surprisingly Mr Carne could not give direct assurances but was good enough to put us in touch with a regional strategy director who has promised to brief a delegation from HADRAG on the outcomes of the Hendy review later in the autumn. The offer will be taken up.
The reply from the DfT reasserted commitment to £13bn of transport investment in the North. (We take it this refers to Network Rail’s budget for enhancements, not to be confused with a higher figure sometimes quoted of about £39bn which includes like-for-like renewals.) “The budget for rail enhancements remains intact and the… pause on some projects will not impact on the delivery of the new rail franchises for TransPennine Express and Northern… .” That sounded encouraging in terms of the work required to deliver timetable improvements.
The DfT reply went on to say that consideration of schemes for delivery during CP6 (2019-24) had started, but it was “not possible yet to say whether or how the Electrification Task Force’s recommendations for the Huddersfield and Calder Valley lines might be accommodated in CP6”. A little worrying, perhaps? (And spot the error: Huddersfield electrification had already been approved and so was not on the task force list!)
Then three months after the great pausing of 25th June came the great unpausing of 30th September, in the middle of the party conference season. The full Hendy Review is not expected to report until November, and so is pre-empted by the surprise announcement (did Sir Peter have his arm twisted to agree to this?). Network Rail now seems to be saying it thinks it can probably electrify Stalybridge-Huddersfield-Leeds-York by 2022 – four years later than originally planned. For two years starting now there will be a “a full planning exercise” involving Network Rail, the DfT and Transport for the North resulting by the end of 2017 in a project that “increases benefits to passengers compared to the previous paused scheme” (letter from Sir Peter Hendy to Patrick McLoughlin, 29 Sep’15).
Make Huddersfield line improvements work for Brighouse and the Calder Valley – and then electrify our line!
Everyone concerned with campaigning for rail in the North certainly hopes that the replanned Huddersfield Line electrification will be a better scheme, building in significant capacity increases as well as just electrifying existing tracks. From a mid-to-lower Calder Valley perspective there is obvious scope to restore the mainly 2-track route between Dewsbury and Huddersfield to the 4-track railway that it used to be. This is important for HADRAG because it could help with the need for improved services on the Brighouse line, benefitting the whole of Calderdale. We are saying sensible capacity enhancements on the premier trans-Pennine route could also work for our line, as a prelude to full electrification as recommended by the task force.
But comments by Mr McLoughlin dampened optimism that schemes in the task force’s list would follow during CP6. Since questions remained about Calder Valley projects up to and including electrification, rather than simply wait for the outcome of the Hendy Review, HADRAG wrote again. We welcomed the restart of Huddersfield Line electrification, but set out our 3-point wish-list, expressing concern “to see progress with work that will enhance infrastructure and hence services on the Calder Valley Line which is linked geographically and operationally with the Huddersfield route. These Calder Valley enhancements are vital. They are both the short term (CP5) projects associated with the Northern Hub on the Bradford-Manchester route, and also medium term (CP6) aspirations including the extension of electrification to our line.”
Our Calder Valley route has been waiting decades for serious infrastructure enhancement. Services have been improved despite long-standing capacity and speed limitations which affect performance as well as limiting development. If the promised transformation is to be delivered by the new franchise, faster tracks and more signals will be needed before the end of the current decade. We say Sir Peter Hendy’s review of Network Rail projects must keep the promise to Calder Valley line passengers, actual and would-be, of speed and capacity improvements in the current “control period”, laying foundations for electrification in less than ten years. We are not giving up on this.
Header image attribution: flickr photo by Department for Transport (DfT) https://flickr.com/photos/transportgovuk/9305649181 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license