New train deal welcomed in Calderdale
Passengers were promised a transformation in their journeys as the winning companies in the competitions to run Yorkshire rail services were announced.
Arriva Rail was awarded the Northern franchise covering the majority of local services while FirstGroup will run Transpennine Express services connecting Yorkshire to the North-West and Newcastle.
Ministers said the deals would see £1.2 billion invested in services including 500 new carriages, the phasing out of Pacer trains - branded “buses on rails” by commuters - and the introduction of 125 mph services on some transpennine routes.
Stephen Waring, chair of the Halifax and District Rail Action Group, said: “The proposals go beyond the original specification and this is good news.
“We are particularly pleased that the Calder Valley Line through Bradford, Halifax and Calderdale is to benefit from new Northern Connect cross-regional services and look forward to improved connectivity with new destinations including Liverpool, Chester and Manchester Airport, with a real promise of brand-new trains on these routes.
“However, the Government announcement leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
“We want more doing to develop services at some of the local stations serving medium-sized towns in our area, principally Brighouse and Sowerby Bridge.
“We also want to know how they are going to develop services at Brighouse which we hope will begin to see semi-fast as well as “all-stations” trains.”
The Northern franchise will start from April 2016 and will run for nine years with a possible one-year extension. The TransPennine franchise will start at the same time and will run for seven years with a possible two-year extension.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, Coun Barry Collins, said: “We’re delighted with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Fund announcement for £30million investment in the West Yorkshire rail network.
“We’ve worked extremely hard over the last 12 months to secure these improvements in Calderdale, taking opportunities throughout the consultation to raise key issues around the Calder Valley line. But this isn’t just a win for the Council; this announcement will benefit commuters, help businesses, boost jobs and encourage employers to come to Calderdale.”
Halifax passengers will see an additional service every hour to Manchester, Bradford and Leeds and a link to Manchester Airport, while in the Colne Valley Slaithwaite and Marsden will have direct, hourly services to Leeds.
Halifax MP Holly Lynch said: “It’s welcome that we’re going to see some much needed investment in more train carriages and commuters will be glad to finally see the end of the Pacer trains.
“However I fail to see the sense in the Government handing over our train services to the German state railway. Any profits made on our trains will effectively be spent subsidising rail networks in Germany.”
“Once again the Government is happy for any public sector operator to run our railways as long as it isn’t British.”
Stations will be improved, with over £30m of investment, including ticket vending machines and 45 stations that are currently unstaffed stations will be staffed for at least part of the day.
Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge, Todmorden, and Halifax will all become Northern Connect stations, staffed 6am to 10pm daily, with catering facilities and free Wi-Fi.
Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker said: “This deal will bring the Northern Powerhouse to life, helping to extend economic opportunity across our region.
“I am particularly delighted that the new franchise will see the outdated Pacer trains replaced and extra carriages and capacity delivered across the Calder Valley line.
“I also welcome the announcement that Hebden Bridge and Todmorden Stations will become Northern Connect stations, to be staffed between 6am and 10pm every day, with catering outlets and free Wi-Fi provided for the benefit of customers.”