What valley’s rail passengers want to see

Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group secretary Nina Smith
Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group secretary Nina Smith

Residents of Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Mytholmrioyd and surrounding areas want later trains back from Manchester and Leeds, earlier and more trains on Sundays, a direct service to Huddersfield and new trains to replace the outdated units currently used on the Calder Valley line.

These findings come from research carried out in July by the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group in conjunction with the Friends of Hebden Bridge Station.

They are among the recommendations in the group’s response to the Government’s current consultation on the future specification for the Northern Rail and TransPennine Rail networks.

The group is also recommending the building of a new cross-Bradford rail link to facilitate new direct services between towns such as Ilkley, Skipton and Keighley with Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Huddersfield, and Manchester.

Commenting on the proposals, Nina Smith, the group’s secretary and rail issues lead, said: “We carried out research amongst passengers using Hebden Bridge Station, and we’d like to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to make their views known.

“Many people commented that the last trains back from Leeds and Manchester were too early to be able to go the theatre, a music event or spend a long evening with friends and colleagues.

“Lots of others would welcome a through service to Huddersfield.

“Passengers commented on overcrowding and want to see longer trains in peak periods. In terms of comfort and reliability, respondents want to see the back of the worse trains on our line, the almost universally hated ‘Pacers’ or ‘bouncy castles’ as one respondent referred to them.

“Other types of unit used on our line require major overhauls and upgrading. They must be made fully accessible to disabled travellers. Many people commented on the lack of space for bikes.

“Current ticket office opening hours were felt to be about right, and respondents praised the helpful booking office staff and the excellent station cafe at Hebden Bridge, the Coffee Station.

“Several respondents want extra, faster services, and in the longer term, some respondents stressed the needs for the line to be electrified.”

The fact that the survey was not carried out amongst car commuters means that latent demand for train services could not be ascertained, says the group.

The full survey report and its appendices are being sent with the group’s response as supplementary material containing evidence.