Campaigners welcome support in fight for Calder Valley line electrification

Stephen Waring, Chair of HADRAG,
Stephen Waring, Chair of HADRAG,

Campaigners for the Electric Railway Charter have backed Calderdale Council to lobby a campaign for electrification of the Calder Valley rail line.

READ; Trans-Pennine rail £2.9bn upgrade will cause five years of route closures, longer journeys and less capacity

Council leaders agreed to a report that went to Cabinet which highlighted the benefits of electric railways in terms of improved performance attracting passengers, reduced running costs and increased reliability, environmental advantages, and network benefits.

READ: Why the time is right to get rail electrification back on track

A lobbying campaign bringing in MPs along the line, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, rail industry and government is now expected, and the report recommends that the Council become signatories of the Electric Railway Charter.

Stephen Waring, Chair of HADRAG, coordinates the Charter campaign jointly with Richard Lysons, Chair of the Friends of Littleborough Stations (FOLS), who also represents STORM.

“The Calderdale report gives a big lift to the campaign to transform our rail link into a truly modern transport route, that will attract more passengers and have the capacity to carry them; and that will be good for the environment, good for the rail businesses and good for the local and regional economy,” he said.

“We thought the government was about to promise electrification more than three years ago when the Task Force reported, but it’s clear we still need to campaign.

READ: Defiant warning to Government as battle lines are drawn for rail electrification

“We know that the costs of electrifying the lines have to be borne. But we believe this cost will be more than covered by future savings accruing from the reduced operating costs and improved performance of electric trains.”

"What is more we know that the costs and disruption during constriction can be significantly reduced by smart electrification. This is an exciting idea that means, for example, there can be gaps in the overhead live electricity supply for example through tunnels or under difficult bridge.

"This system is now proposed for electrification in the South Wales valley lines and will massively reduce the need to lower the tracks through tunnels or increase the height of bridges.

"If this is right for the new Welsh rail franchise it can work for our Calder Valley Line. Smart electrification can be delivered quicker, with much less disruption to services in the process. Electric trains with a modest amount of battery storage will run smoothly through unwired or ‘neutral’ sections.

"This is surely better than perpetuating the use of polluting and inefficient diesel technology.

“We now want to widen the Charter campaign, and hope all MPs and local authorities, along Calder Valley line on both sides of the Pennines will get on board, together with business groups and environmental groups.”

The Electric Railway Charter was launched earlier this year by four campaigning rail user groups and Yorkshire and North West branches of Railfuture (the national independent campaign for a better rail network).

The four user groups are HADRAG (Halifax and District Rail Action Group), Bradford Rail Users, Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group, and STORM (Support the Oldham, Rochdale Manchester rail group).

The Charter calls for a rolling programme of electrification across the North, based on the recommendations of the Northern Electrification Task Force report “Northern Sparks” which came out in March 2015.