Calderdale Council leader lashes out at rail chaos

Councillor Tim Swift
Councillor Tim Swift

Councillor Tim Swift, leader of Calderdale Council, has written a scathing open letter to Northern Rail bosses expressing 'grave concerns' over the state of the rail service.

A revamped timetable has ravaged the service over recent weeks. Between 7am and 7pm, 25 services were cancelled on the Calder Valley line alone, and over a third delayed by three minutes or more.

In his open letter to Managing Director David Brown, Coun Swift argues that the level of delays and cancellations on the Calder Valley line mean that ‘rail is no longer a reliable means of travel’.

Visitors to the Piece Hall for the Father John Misty concert over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend were caught up in the disruption after a large number of train services were cancelled and the replacement bus service was cancelled, potentially leaving hundreds stranded in Halifax.

Whilst the earlier timetable changes have caused major disruption for commuters travelling to and from the borough, the introduction of the new temporary timetable on Monday 4 June is having an even greater impact, particularly on services to Todmorden.

Coun Tim Swift said:

"The recent failure of Northern to deliver and maintain services against its franchise agreement, and to communicate properly with the public, is unacceptable and they must be held to account.

"I have asked Northern for an urgent response and reassurance that our concerns will be recognised and that we will see an immediate return to a reliable service on the Calder Valley line. The service which Calderdale has received since the introduction of the new timetable is simply not good enough.

“We have major employers in the borough, including Nestles International, Covea Insurance and SSP which have their global headquarters in Halifax. The Lloyds Banking Group is also located here. Our businesses and our residents rely on these vital connections with the major towns and cities across the North, including Leeds, Bradford and Manchester.

“It’s extremely disappointing, particularly given how relentlessly we have been working to bring key improvements to the rail network through Calderdale.”