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Bring our railway into the 21st Century

Thursday 14 Aug 2014

The Leeds to Manchester Railway was one of the world's first inter-city railways, opening in 1839. Although still popular and very well used, it is in serious need of investment.

A local rail action group, The Upper Calder Valley Transport Group, in conjunction with the Friends of Hebden Bridge Station, recently conducted a survey to find what local residents and rail users want from their railway service. The survey was posted on the HebWeb in early July. (See HebWeb News)

The survey shows that we 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and Leeds; earlier and more trains on Sundays; a direct service to Huddersfield; and new trains to replace the outdated units currently used on the Calder Valley line.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 are amongst 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.

The Group's key recommendations are as follows:

The Calder Valley lines require:

  • Later evening trains from Leeds, Manchester and Blackpool/Preston
  • Earlier services on Sunday mornings.
  • A full, seven days a week service on the Leeds – Brighouse - Manchester route.
  • New direct service from the Upper Calder Valley to Huddersfield, and to Manchester Airport. 
  • A new link to join up the railway between Bradford Interchange and Bradford Forster Square to facilitate a wide range of new through service possibilities.
  • Other new direct services
  • More capacity on Sundays
  • The new service from Blackburn to Manchester via Burnley to be in integral part of the new franchise.
  • More capacity on commuter trains
  • More modern, more comfortable, more reliable rolling stock.
  • Speed enhancements.
  • An enhanced service and staffing at Sowerby Bridge.
  • A new station at Elland, and possibly one at Cornholme.
  • More robust response to anti-social behaviour on trains.
  • Electrification.
  • Achieving modal shift to be a key objective in the next Northern Rail franchise specification.


Commenting on the proposals, Nina Smith, the Group's Secretary, told the HebWeb, "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, 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."

See also

Download the report (PDF)

Friends of Hebden Bridge Station