Group outlines vision for future of valley rail travel

Nina Smith, secretary of the Upper Calder Valley Rennaisance Sustainable Transport Group outside Hebden Bridge train station.
Nina Smith, secretary of the Upper Calder Valley Rennaisance Sustainable Transport Group outside Hebden Bridge train station.

An upper Calder Valley transport group is doing its bit to shape the long-term future of rail travel in the region.

Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group has filed its response to the Long Term Rail Strategy consultation draft produced by Rail North, the body that is working to devolve rail franchising from Whitehall to the north of England.

The group has praised Rail North for “the most ambitious document produced by a public body for developing the railway system in the north of England”, but said that it is not ambitious enough and has submitted recommendations that it wants to see in the final strategy document.

These include:

l Increasing the number of evening trains on the Caldervale Line, with later last trains.

l Making the Sunday timetable broadly similar to the weekday service, with the exception of some morning peak services. Sunday services need to start much earlier than at present.

l Starting a through service from the upper valley stations to Huddersfield, starting in Preston. This is in recognition of the significant and increasing level of commuting from the upper valley and East Lancashire to and from Huddersfield.

l Developing a direct service from East Lancashire to Wakefield, Barnsley and Sheffield, also serving the upper valley.

l Opening new stations at Elland, Cornholme/Portsmouth and Hipperholme/Lightcliffe.

l Giving Walsden as good a train service as that currently serving Mytholmroyd.

l Building a cross Bradford city centre rail link to connect the Caldervale and Airedale Lines, thus giving Calderdale residents direct services to Skipton, Ilkley and other destinations

l The Rail North draft strategy identifies the need to electrify the Caldervale Line. The sustainable transport group wants this to start by 2020, and for electrification to include the line from Halifax to Mirfield and Huddersfield.

l Improving access for disabled and other mobility impaired people by providing lifts at Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.

l Extending the car park at Hebden Bridge station and providing toilets at Todmorden station.

l Making railway stations integrated transport hubs.

l Making train and tram services seamless from a passenger perspective, with through ticketing, rail card discounts and integrated information systems.

l Replacing the Pacer trains with more modern units, and improving passenger comfort in other older carriages.

l Prioritising public transport for transport expenditure, with roads expenditure confined to highway maintenance and other safety work, and building new roads to serve new developments.

To view Rail North’s draft strategy, visit www.railstrategynorth.com