Halifax rail pressure group’s bid to expand its campaign voice

HADRAG chair Stephen Waring
HADRAG chair Stephen Waring

A Calderdale transport pressure group’s annual meeting is urging the public to use it as a campaigning voice to tell rail operators and local and national government what they believe should be done to improve rail services.

Halifax and District Rail Action Group (HADRAG) holds its annual meeting at the Carlton Centre, Harrison Road, Halifax, on Saturday, June 1 (10.15am) and rail users, businesses and political representatives are among those invited to attend.

All are areas of concern to Calderdale Council, which has pledged to step up pressure on Government to electrify the Calder Valley rail line and make other improvements, with Leader of the Council Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) saying earlier this year that the Calder Valley line is consistently one of the poorest performers across the West Yorkshire network.

His remarks followed a year of much misery for rail commuters in 2018, particularly following the highly-criticised rollout of new timetables in May that year.

But the line is crucial to both increasing employment opportunities for Calderdale people as a major commuter route and bringing in people to visit the borough, the council believes.

HADRAG chair Stephen Waring said as well as a guest speaker the meeting was also a call to rail passengers to tell the campaign group what it should be telling train operators, transport officials and local and regional authorities.

“We are focused on getting a decent timetable for the Calder Valley Line, and a better deal for local stations including places like Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse which serve sizeable towns but suffer from a poor train timetable.

“We want a well-designed timetable for when Elland station opens hopefully in three year’s time.

“And we continue to campaign through the Electric Railway Charter for a truly modern railway with a ‘sparks effect’ to attract people off congested, polluted and polluting roads, and play a full role in fighting the climate emergency,” he said.

All are aims in line with the council’s own policies.

The Calder Valley line links Leeds and Manchester via Bradford, Halifax and Rochdale, plus several other towns in the upper Calder Valley.

It also provides a connection between York and Blackpool and Huddersfield via Brighouse.

The council also wants faster and more frequent trains, better access for walkers, cyclists and buses – all also key parts of ongoing highway policy – and improved station car parking, especially in the growth area of Brighouse.

The guest speaker will be Prof Paul Salveson, community rail pioneer and chair of the Rail Reform Group and some light refreshments will be available from around 9.45am.

Mr Waring added: “We want franchise promises delivered like extra services to Manchester and the new trains on most of our services.

“HADRAG’s annual meeting will be chance for Calder Valley line passengers to tell us what we should be telling Northern Rail, Transport for the North and Government minister Chris Grayling.”