Multi-million pound Halifax railway station gateway scheme hit by delays

A Calderdale transport scheme is among several in West Yorkshire that are likely to run months, or even years, behind schedule.

In March 2020 when the Government announced that West Yorkshire would be getting devolved powers, and a new elected mayor, the news came with a huge pot of funding for transport projects.

The Transforming Cities Fund would see millions spent on schemes to improve transport in and around city centres.

At an upcoming meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which is overseeing the projects, members will hear that several schemes are not likely to be completed until far beyond that deadline.

Artist impression of Halifax station gateway scheme

A report to the Authority’s Investment Committee shows that over a year after the schemes were announced, around three quarters have only progressed to the “outline business case” stage.

One of the schemes likely to run beyond the completion deadline are the Halifax Rail Station gateway project – likely to be completed in July 2025.

The report points out that the £317m provided to West Yorkshire through the Transforming Cities Fund was the “low” funding scenario – meaning some of the proposed schemes would not be fully funded by TCF.

Last June the Authority agreed to support the full ‘high’ scenario of projects with an extra £164.5m if needed, although this is described as a “last resort” in case other funding streams fail to emerge.

This means some of the projects would only be part funded by the TCF, so missing the deadline would not cause the project to collapse.

The progress report going to the committee says: “There has been good progress in some areas, however the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and implications have impacted on progress overall, along with a need to undertake more detailed work around scope and deliverability of projects and delays to resourcing of schemes.”

21 out of the 35 schemes are still in the outline business case stage.

The report says some of the schemes will have multiple sources of funding – and it is hoped the full TCF funding can be spent before the 2023 deadline. The extra funding from the

Combined Authority may be used on the schemes that are expected to run past the deadline.

It says: “A significant proportion of schemes are now forecasting completion of construction beyond the DfT funding deadline of March 2023.

“Work is underway with partners to review the scope of the schemes and identify opportunities to accelerate programmes to achieve construction earlier than currently forecast.

“Discussions are ongoing with the Department for Transport on the funding deadline through quarterly update meetings. To date there has been no flexibility indicated on carry over of funding beyond the March 2023 date.

“The Combined Authority will continue dialogue with DfT to make the case for flexibility on delivery timescales. However, projects must progress at pace so we can demonstrate the region’s commitment to deliver the spend and transformational programme within the timescales set by Government.”

The committee meets on Tuesday morning.