Business leaders demand Calderdale rail improvements

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LOCAL business leaders have underlined their support for High Speed Rail services between Leeds, Sheffield and London.

But they say more pressing in the short term is the lack of capacity on shorter routes, service quality and connectivity issues.

The Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce wants improvements to the Caldervale Line.

“Electrification should be a priority in order to facilitate an electrified service from Liverpool to Bradford, and if the ill-fated Bradford Crossrail Project were to be resurrected, to Leeds and beyond.

“There is also an urgent need for significant upgrades to the quantity and quality of the rolling stock on this line, the introduction of improved timetables, and a very strong case for track and signalling enhancements ahead of electrification of the line.”

The chamber has included the comments in its response to the All Party Parliamentary Group Consultation on Rail Capacity.

The Chamber has supported the case for High Speed Rail, based upon projected future capacity shortfalls, and has successfully lobbied for the project to be delivered in a ‘Y’ configuration, connecting London to Leeds and Sheffield.

“A major part of the justification for HSR is to address projected capacity shortfalls on the existing network, which by 2032 when HSR reaches Leeds could without intervention become a very significant problem,” said the chamber’s head of policy, Steven Leigh.

“It is therefore imperative that our previous calls to enhance and upgrade the track on the East Coast Mainline should remain a major priority in order that an acceptable North-South service can be maintained over the intervening 20 years.

“In addition, the Treasury should now commit funding for The Northern Hub ahead of the deferred deadline of this summer, so that construction work can begin in April 2014.”

The Northern Hub could provide an additional 700 trains a day across the North of England, with the £560 million project promising a £4 billion boost to jobs and additional prosperity throughout the regional economy.

The project will provide quicker and more frequent connections between cities including Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield, including an extra six an hour on the Manchester-Leeds route.