Rail campaigners have strongly welcomed the news that a budget of about £20 million has been allocated to opening a railway station and transport hub for Elland.
The Halifax and District Rail Action group said the ambitious project that matches up with ideas for a multi-modal local transport hub that the group set out four years ago
Plans agreed at the West Yorkshire Transport Fund investment panel are for Elland to have a rail-centred transport hub made up half a dozen elements that could transform the area around the chosen site next to Lowfields business park.
Stephen Waring, Chair of HADRAG, said: “We are delighted to hear that plans for Elland station have taken a massive step forward and we should now see it constructed, hopefully in no more than five years time, with investment from the West Yorkshire transport fund.
“This sounds like a much better use of this funding, giving much greater economic benefits, than the previous idea of using it to supplement line enhancements that Network Rail should be doing anyway.
“At first sight the top-end estimate of £22 million in the budget may sound high but this clearly reflects the increased ambition of the project.
“This is no longer just a small train halt, but a significant local sustainable transport hub, genuinely multi-modal in providing for high-quality access to the railway on foot, by bike, by bus and by car.
“In fact it reflects the kind of vision that HADRAG put forward when we produced our own paper on Elland several years ago.
“The car park potentially makes this a really useful park and ride serving a big area encompassing Stainland, Greetland and parts of south-east Halifax as well as Elland itself.
“This is a catchment area with a population of well over 20 000 – possibly the biggest urban area in Yorkshire still waiting for its own train station. Since Brighouse station opened 17 years ago we know people in Elland have felt frustrated at not having their own station. Now we can have real confidence that it’s going to happen.
“Obviously we’d be even more pleased if the opening date could be brought forward and we certainly support all efforts by Calderdale to get the station open at the earliest possible date.
“We know that over the next few years Network Rail is going to upgrade the TransPennine route through Huddersfield that connects with the Elland-Brighouse line.
“We are waiting to hear about the scope of that work but hope it’s going to increase capacity allowing more trains to run via the Elland-Brighouse corridor.
“HADRAG is pressing the Northern train operating company (Arriva Rail North) to upgrade its train timetable on the Brighouse line going beyond their immediate plans between now and 2019.
“We want them to include allowance for a stop at Elland in the new timetable they plan to introduce at the end of 2019.
“But looking just a bit further ahead we want them to do a lot more for this route in terms of more trains, faster trains.
“If we can get them to eventually introduce a fast service from Calderdale to Leeds via the Brighouse-Dewsbury route that could get people from Elland into Leeds in little more than 20 minutes. Our group will be keeping up the argument that this is one of the things that should happen.”
Calderdale Council called for new train station to be built in the next two to three years as a study by GHD Transportation said the estimated cost would be £14m.
However, a report that will be discussed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s investment committee said the cost could be closer to £22m.