Stephen Waring, chair of the Halifax and District Rail Action Group (HADRAG), said: “It is many years since HADRAG first called for Halifax train station to be transformed as a welcoming gateway between railway and town.
“The station gateway proposal coming from Calderdale Council shows the ambition to do this. We discussed the concept designs at HADRAG’s committee meeting this week, and they look truly transformational, making the station itself a much more attractive feature at the centre of a greatly enhanced environment linking with new bus stops, the Piece Hall, cultural hub and town centre.
“HADRAG therefore welcomes the broad concept as presented but wants to see further work done to ensure the best possible access for existing rail users. Wherever possible, level horizontal routes are better than either stairs or lifts. The architects of the final scheme must consider how passengers will negotiate changes in levels, as well as the need to create a direct route between the proposed new east-side car park and the current station platform.
“We also think that, rather than completely segregating pedestrian and vehicle access, drop-off, pick-up, cycle and taxi access could be retained on the west side of the station - the “town side” - where pedestrians will access through the proposed station gardens and a new public square.
“The final design must be future-proof, allowing for greatly increased train services and new service patterns. Reinstatement of platform 3 will create space for growing numbers of passengers. We think it should be done so as to allow in the future for an additional railway track, giving three fully operational lines so that more trains can run through, terminate and reverse in the station.
“Opening up the Navigation Road arch puts the station on a transformed pedestrian route between new development east of the line and the town centre. This should make the station a centrepiece. With new development in and around the historic 1855 Building the station hub should become an attraction its own right.
“But most importantly it must also be designed to work for train passengers, better for both existing users and increasing numbers in the future.
Stuart Peacock, who owns the Caféxpresshop at the station, said: “What is being proposed is badly needed. You have two million passengers a year funneling through one small doorway and there can be a lot of congestion on foot and trying to park.
“But I think it would be wonderful if the old facade could be brought back into use.”
Steven Leigh, Head of Policy at the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is very important to encourage inward investment into our town. New businesses setting-up in Calderdale will create jobs, promote economic growth, and will ensure additional income for the Borough whilst protecting the well-being and prosperity of businesses and residents alike.
“Halifax station is a key gateway, and it needs to reflect our future ambitions, aspirations and emerging visions for Calderdale.”
“The station and the image created when first arriving in Halifax is extremely important. The present station has a number of functionality issues which need to be addressed, and it is essential in addressing those issues that we should promote the town and create the best possible impression for visitors - because first-impressions really do matter.
“I was pleased to represent the chamber at the station gateway objective setting workshop last May, as well as at the options selection workshop in June.
“At those workshops there was general agreement with a vision statement which was created to summarise widespread-shared objectives for the station and its gateway, which was ‘a regionally recognised, landmark station with world class facilities which will serve as an instantly recognisable hub and gateway to Halifax town centre; combining rich heritage assets with unique design that responds to the area’s distinctiveness, revitalising the relationship between the station, the town and its ambitious renewal, to create vibrancy and confidence which will define Halifax as it embraces the future.’
“On behalf of our chamber members, as well as the wider business community in our region, I hope these ambitions and aspirations will come to fruition and that all the intended outcomes of the vision statement will be fully achieved. This is a tremendous opportunity to boost commercial activity, to generate new employment, and to promote and support our growing number of visitor attractions in the town.”
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