‘Raw deal’ claim as trains move from north to south

The Todmorden Curve
The Todmorden Curve

Rail campaign groups and councillors have expressed their dismay that rolling stock will be moved to routes in the south of England.

Last week it was announced that numerous trains which are currently used on First TransPennine Express services between Manchester and Hull will be transferred to Chiltern Railways from April 2015 under a lease agreement.

Coun Barry Collins, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for economy and environment, said the decision shows the Government “clearly doesn’t care” about the Calder Valley rail line.

He said: “First we had the farce over the Todmorden Curve.

“Then they missed us off the priority list for electrification.

“Now, when some better trains finally become available, they send them south.

“More and more people are using the Calder Valley line every year, so how much longer do we have to put up with clapped out rolling stock?

“For us, what’s the point of the multi-billion HS2 project unless our local communities can effectively connect into it?”

Nina Smith, of the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group, said new rolling stock was “absolutely essential” for the re-opening of the Todmorden Curve rail link.

“We would rather that TransPennine stock stayed in the north either for trains on the Huddersfield route or have some transferred to Northern Rail,” she said.

“We are trying to encourage more people to use the railway all the time.

“But we can’t do that if we have overcrowded trains.

“The fact that these units are needed in the north of England but are being sent south is disgusting.

“It shows the problem of franchised railways.

“The north gets the raw deal.

“We are several hundred rolling units short of what we need.

“Given that rail fares have gone up above inflation over the last few years, it’s time people saw some benefit from that.”

Metro Chairman Coun James Lewis said: “I’m disappointed that rail passengers in the north of England may have to suffer overcrowding and fewer services as a result of a short-term, commercial decision.

“It flies in the face of the evidence of an ever-growing market for train travel in the north, including between the cities served by TransPennine Express.

“This is why the authorities in the north, through the Rail North partnership with the Department for Transport, want to take responsibility for our local rail network.

“I am seeking an urgent meeting with ministers to see what we can do to increase the number of trains, not reduce them.”

Rail infrastructure was scheduled to be the topic of a debate in Parliament yesterday.