The new Northern franchise is indeed transformational. But we aren’t the only ones saying even more is needed to meet potential travel needs. West Yorkshire Combined Authority oversees the Metro brand in the county. At a recent transport committee meeting, a report from officials highlighted gaps and areas for improvement, some of them close to HADRAG’s heart. “Adjustments” and smaller changes for discussion with Northern include:
- Moving to 2 trains/hr at Low Moor
- Sunday trains Leeds-Dewsbury-Brighouse-Manchester (one of two routes in the city region without a Sunday service);
- Earlier Sunday trains Hebden Bridge/Brighouse to Leeds.
- Possibility of starting the Bradford-Manchester Airport service before 2019 (it is actually to start 2017 on Sundays)…
And classed as “enhancements”:
- WYCA goal of 4 trains/hour between Bradford and Manchester…
- …with restoration of link between local stations like Walsden and Bradford. We could support that!
A separate report sets out a rail narrative for West Yorkshire. Elland tops the list of new stations listing benefits of connectivity, modal shift, network access and park & ride.
A Manchester-bound Calder Valley Line train makes haste past the building site that will be Low Moor station. Work on the right-hand (Bradford-bound) platform has advanced significantly since this July scene and the station should now open by May next year. Construction was delayed by the discovery of underground features that old plans failed to show — a former mineshaft requiring piling and a concrete cap. After that set-back it was considered prudent to carry out additional surveys in case of any more nasty surprises.
In terms of design quality, the latest new halts are a significant advance on earlier examples (of which Bramley and Walsden come to mind). Note lift shaft awaiting its partner and footbridge over the lines. Yes, the latest lifts are considered reliable enough for an unstaffed station! Recently opened Kirkstall Forge (see panel on next page) in the Aire Valley gives some idea of current style, though the roofed footbridge may be a luxury beyond what is to be lavished on Low Moor.
Still-to-be-finished Low Moor already has a keen “Friends” group (FOLMS) that meets regularly.
Like Kirkstall Forge, Low Moor will open with a basic service of just one local train an hour. It will be the Leeds-Bradford-Halifax-Huddersfield trains that stop, plus Grand Central’s London expresses four times a day each way. Situated in a well-populated part of south Bradford with major employers including the BASF chemical works, the station surely deserves better, with obvious park & ride potential. West Yorkshire Combined Authority wants ways explored of providing the half-hourly service that should be the norm. Along with our colleagues in FOLMS, we wait to see whether Northern will stop more trains at Low Moor at the key December 2017 timetable change. Failing that, as HADRAG argues for Sowerby Bridge, the 2019 timetable could be a good time to get more trains stopping, when an extra train every hour from Bradford to Manchester will link through to the Manchester International Airport.