From: Tony Plumbe, Chair, Rail Group, Campaign for Better Transport, West & North Yorkshire Branch.
WE WELCOME the long-awaited announcement by Network Rail of proposed investment in the section of the TransPennine route between Huddersfield and south Dewsbury. In particular we welcome the commitment to electrification, four station upgrades, digital signalling, and the four-track provision where this does not exist already.
This route has to be considered, however, not in isolation, or partially, but rather as a vital strategic through route from Manchester to York. Where, for example, are the proposals for electrification between Stalybridge and Huddersfield, or between south of Dewsbury and Leeds, or between Leeds and Colton Junction on the East Coast Main Line to York?
Electrification is particularly important for freight movement over the Pennines and is readily obscured by a fixation solely on passengers. Electrification east of Ravensthorpe towards the East Coast Main Line north of Doncaster might be attractive to freight traffic. The benefits of electrification cannot be reaped without coherent through route provision of wires.
We also question why the section between south Dewsbury and Leeds has been omitted. There is little point in speeding trains up between Huddersfield and south Dewsbury if they are then held up by a slow dual track ‘‘throat’’ between Dewsbury and Leeds.
It is unclear how the train passing provision in alternate directions shared currently between Dewsbury and Mirfield stations will be removed as an operational constraint. Dewsbury, Batley and Morley stations need to be added to the list of stations for upgrading.
Details are distinctly scanty. We understand a replacement railway station is to be built at Ravensthorpe which is most welcome if that will enable local passengers to use either the lines to Leeds or to Wakefield Kirkgate for employment.
In all these proposals, a careful eye needs to be kept that a re-instatement of the Spen Valley railway is not compromised. Attention also needs to be paid to the opportunity for the re-instatement of freight terminals in the Huddersfield, Mirfield, Dewsbury and Horbury areas. Complementary measures from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the transport operators to induce travellers out of their cars and vans on to the railway will be needed.
The environmental benefits of this announcement, while not mentioned, are most welcome.