Rail passenger demand to bring Hipperholme station idea forward

Could rail passenger demand see a new station open in Hipperholme?
Could rail passenger demand see a new station open in Hipperholme?

Growing numbers of rail users – expected to increase further as Calderdale develops – mean more stations will be needed at places like Hipperholme.

With Calderdale’s highway network reaching capacity, at least part of the answer lies with a new age of the train, Calderdale Council’s Place Scrutiny Board heard.

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According to government statistics, between 2010 and 2017, Brighouse has led the way with a 48.8 per cent growth in passengers, likely due to timetabled services introduced in 2012 from the upper valley through Brighouse to Mirfield, Dewsbury and Leeds, and an interchange to Huddersfield.

Housing growth in the south east Calderdale area is also a factor, with partner authorities well on developing proposals for a new station at Elland as part of the Calderdale: The Next Chapter project.

But there needs to be more, the briefing document to councillors explained corporate lead for Transportation, Mary Farrar, in her report.

“Calderdale’s highway network is at or close to capacity. News stations will be required if we are to continue to provide sustainable housing, allow businesses to proper, offer a high quality of life and have good access to sand from the cities.

“For this reason, officers are developing the programme for a new station at Elland.

“However, other areas need to be considered for a new station such as Hipperholme.

“The capacity of the line must be increased if we are to achieve these goals,” she said.

Find out more about improvements to railway stations
Growth figures are also up at most other Calderdale rail stations, the figures show, including Halifax usage up 9.6 per cent, Sowerby Bridge up 28.8 per cent, Hebden Bridge up 7.79 per cent, Todmorden up 13.1 per cent and Walsden up 6.6 per cent. Mytholmroyd was slightly up on 2016 but down on 2017.

Calderdale has a strategic approach in partnership with West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Bradford Council using evidence widely supported by the rail industry to deliver service improvements with a focus on enhancing rolling stock, putting required infrastructure in place and making improvements to services and timetabling.

But recently poor reliability has had a negative effect on borough’s community and economic performance.

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The council’s main objectives include better connectivity between principal stations including faster and more frequent trains, more capacity to help those commuting to Manchester or Leeds and aligning development, land use and wider transport plans to make best use of the railway and strengthen rail demand.

Complementary solutions such as improved access to the network using better walking, cycling and bus access as well as extra parking provision are also being developed.

But anecdotal evidence suggests poor reliability is not increasing confidence in the service and leads to people using alternative transport, usually their car.

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Overcrowding and a poor on-board environment are not meeting customer expectations, neither is lack of a 24/7 railways – and these issues will likely limit Calderdale’s economic growth, says the report, with attendant increases in pollution and land needed for car parking.

A serious drawback at the moment is delaying rail electrification on the Calder Valley Line with the Government currently giving no commitment to delivering this.

Yet to achieve increase in capacity, electrification or at least partial electrification is the only viable option, said the report.

Rail chaos cost the North £38m according to George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse Partnership