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Monday, 21 October 2013

Major improvements to rail services sought

The UCVR Sustainable Transport Group has submitted its response to the Long Term Rail Strategy consultation draft produced by Rail North, the organisation based in Metro's headquarters that is working to devolve rail franchising from Whitehall to the north of England.

The ST Group's response praises Rail North for the most ambitious document produced by a public body for developing the railway system in the north of England. Nevertheless, the group considers that it is not ambitious enough and makes a number of recommendations that it wants to see in the final strategy document. These include:

  • Increasing the number of evening trains on the Caldervale Line, with later last trains.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Developing a direct service from East Lancashire to Wakefield, Barnsley and Sheffield, also serving the upper valley.
  • Opening new stations at Elland, Cornholme /Portsmouth and Hipperholme /Lightcliffe.
  • Giving Walsden as good a train service as that currently serving Mytholmroyd.
  • 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
  • The Rail North draft strategy identifies the need to electrify the Caldervale Line. The ST Groups calls for this to start by 2020, and for electrification to include the line from Halifax to Mirfield and Huddersfield.
  • Improving access for disabled and other mobility impaired people by providing lifts at Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.
  • Extending the car park at Hebden Bridge station, & providing toilets at Todmorden station.
  • Making railway stations integrated transport hubs.
  • Making train and tram services seamless from a passenger perspective, with through ticketing, railcard discounts and integrated information systems.
  • Replacing the Pacer trains with more modern units, and improving passenger comfort in other older carriages.
  • 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.
    Commenting on the strategy, the ST Group's Secretary, Nina Smith, said that it was vital for the health of the planet that everything possible was done to get people to transfer from their cars to the train. The draft strategy was an excellent start, but really bold thinking was required.

Contact: Nina Smith 07984 670331
Full response available onrequest

Thanks to Nina Smith on behalf of the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group