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Electrification of a Trans Pennine route - but not the Calder Valley line.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

The Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group has welcomed today's announcement that agreement has been reached to reschedule the project to electrify the Trans Pennine railway route between Leeds and Manchester via Huddersfield. This will now be completed in 2022-3.

However, the group has called on the government to go further and to commit to electrifying the Calder Valley routes through Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Brighouse and Halifax  as part of the same work programme.

The Calder Valley Routes were identified earlier this year by the government appointed Electrification Task Force as the number one priority line in the north of England for electrification. The group's Chair and Railway Issues Lead, Nina Smith, said that early electrification of the Calder Valley lines was essential for two strong reasons. Firstly, it will be vital that there is an alternative route for when the new electric Trans Pennine trains have to be diverted from the Huddersfield route. Secondly, the group's recommendation reflects the importance of the routes as carrying large numbers of commuters, especially to Leeds, Bradford and Manchester. 

The group also called for work to enable necessary line speed improvements to be started within the next year. These include re-signalling, track and junction improvements and the need for a passing facility at Halifax; this would be best facilitated by the restoration of the third platform currently used by a day nursery and offices. The much needed new station at Elland should be part of this work.

Nina Smith added, "As well as better train sets, we need both faster trains services and the opportunity to have a more intensive service serving more destinations. The Leeds - Brighouse - Manchester service should run throughout the evening, and on Sundays. The daytime service should be half-hourly, with one train an hour running being a semi-fast service to give a 30 minute journey time from Hebden Bridge to Leeds.

"Our research at Hebden Bridge last year showed a big demand for later evening services from Leeds and Manchester, earlier and more intensive Sunday services, and a direct service from the upper valley to Huddersfield. Electrification of all the lines would enable a circular service from Manchester Victoria via Rochdale, Hebden Bridge, Brighouse, Huddersfield, and Stalybridge to start by 2024, thus opening up a raft of new direct train travel opportunities."

See also:

HebWeb Forum: Caldervale Train Line Misses Out Again