Heritage fixation is holding back our rail future - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Gareth Robson, Kent House Road, Beckenham.

I APPLAUD James Bovington’s letter (The Yorkshire Post, November 23) urging investment in the wider Northern suburban rail network including reinstatement of the link between Skipton and Colne.

I am surprised, however, that he recommends a route from Skipton to Manchester via Bradford; surely with the Colne link it would be more direct via Burnley?

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But even there, I note that journeys from Colne to Manchester take over two hours with a change at Accrington (or sometimes at Preston, even more absurdly) – how pitiful.

Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Would it be too much to ask for an extension to the Manchester tram-train network to replace the East Lancashire Heritage Railway through Rawtenstall and thence to Burnley, and onward via Colne and through Skipton?

This country appears spellbound by daft heritage rather than viable up-to-date infrastructure – and heritage-fixation extends to many areas, not just rail.

In your leader in the same edition you rightly question the credentials of Andrew Gilligan – a history graduate – as Boris Johnson’s transport adviser. How risible that we cannot find more practical forward-looking minds to navigate a route to good connections all over the North.

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A TRAM/streetcar is a bus substitute that shares the infrastructure with other vehicles, e.g. the Blackpool Tram.

A light rail system is a tram with a separate infrastructure, low capacity and a reduced power supply/loading gauge compared to the national rail network, e.g. the Tyne and Wear Metro.

A tram/light rail system is a hybrid which can operate fast in the countryside, but has low capacity and is slow on the streets, e.g. the Sheffield Tram.

A heavy rail rapid transit system has the same loading gauge and power supply as the national rail network, giving rapid speed, high capacity and excellent connectivity, e.g. Merseyrail.

The new Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, insists on a transport system to match London, and Boris Johnson has promised to resolve the anomaly of Leeds being the largest city region in Europe without a Metro.

What type of Metro will West Yorkshire get: a tram to match Blackpool; or a heavy rail rapid transit Metro to match Merseyrail and London? And must we still wait decades to find out?