Network Rail has done a second consultation on the Huddersfield-Dewsbury 4-track plan prior to a Transport and Works Act application as part of the TransPennine Route Upgrade (TRU). The scheme, which includes grade separation (flyover/under) at Ravensthorpe, links with the Brighouse line at Mirfield and Bradley; it will increase capacity and reduce junction conflicts.
HADRAG’s response is a simple message: that this work has to be done without further delay, and without waiting for an inquiry into how it might interact with high speed proposals that could still be decades away. Whether city-connecting Northern Powerhouse Rail goes ahead or not, we need present lines upgrading to enable better services not least on Calderdale’s Elland-Brighouse corridor towards Huddersfield, Wakefield and Leeds. Surely rail in the post-Covid world trains must serve communities even if city-based work is history?
Header Image: “Heaton Lodge Jct Sep 2005” flickr photo by Ravensthorpe https://flickr.com/photos/ravensthorpe/51948302 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license
First public train over the Ordsall Chord is scheduled for Sunday 10 December, 0840 from Manchester Victoria to Oxford Road where it will then form the 0857 via the Calder Valley to Leeds. First train westward to Oxford Rd from Halifax will be the 0945. Check timings online at www.nationalrail.co.uk. We hope to meet a few HADRAG members and friends on these first trains!
Weekday service round the Chord starting December 11th will just be the CVL trains, daytime off-peak generally at 18 minutes past from Leeds to Man Vic, Deansgate and Oxford Road stations, returning from Oxford Rd mainly at xx38 (until 1638). It’s a stepping stone to something a lot better. In May 2018 TransPennine Express should start using the new line and Northern Calder Valley trains should run hourly until late night to Piccadilly and the Airport. We don’t know if the Deansgate stop — useful for workplaces, cultural attractions and the tram to Salford Quays — will be made permanent. We hope so, though it wasn’t shown in the May’18 consultation draft timetable.
No digital miracle: more tracks and platforms needed
The Northern Hub project was supposed to include two extra through platforms and tracks at Manchester Piccadilly station. However, ministerial comments in July reinforced fears this may not happen. Apparently the DfT has asked Network Rail to look at using digital signalling to increase capacity instead. It’s true modern train control with signals in the driver’s cab can increase capacity by allowing trains to safely follow at closer headways, but it clearly does not allow a faster train to pass a slower one, or two trains to run in parallel into a station—unless the physical track capacity is provided. Nor can it make commuters get on and off crush-loaded trains any faster. “Going digital” will take years and is no miracle cure. New platforms and tracks at Piccadilly could prove essential for reliable operation of more trains, including Calder Valley trains from Blackburn as well as Bradford going round to the Airport. Not to mention the need for more tracks around Huddersfield and Mirfield to allow more trains via Brighouse and Elland.