"We need full electrification of the Calder Valley line, not half measures" say rail campaigners in Calderdale

Rail campaigners in Calderdale have welcomed the news that Network Rail has been given the go-ahead to progress with plans to deliver railway improvements in West Yorkshire, but say more needs to be done.

By Tom Scargill
Monday, 4th July 2022, 11:01 am
Updated Monday, 4th July 2022, 11:03 am

The Secretary of State for Transport has green-lit a core part of the upgrade work,

which involves doubling the number of tracks between Huddersfield and Westtown near Dewsbury.

It is hoped the work will pave the way for more frequent and faster trains running on a cleaner and greener railway between York and Manchester via Leeds and Huddersfield.

Passengers at Halifax train station

Campaigners say there will be benefits for Calderdale commuters too, but have reiterated the need for the Calder Valley line to be fully electrified.

Stephen Waring, chair of HADRAG - the Halifax and District Rail Action Group - said: "The go ahead is the long-awaited upgrade – reinstatement of four tracks Huddersfield-Dewsbury – which has now received Transport and Works Act (TWA ) Order.

"This will give four tracks from Huddersfield through bottlenecks at Bradley Junction, Heaton Lodge Junction and Mirfield and allow fast trains to overtake slow trains.

"It should also allow more trains on the lines through Elland and Brighouse on the Bradford-Halifax-Huddersfield and Manchester-Brighouse-Leeds routes. HADRAG is pressing for that. The concern is that Dewsbury-Leeds will still be two track, limiting scope for additional local trains.

Stephen Waring

"Last Autumn the Integrated Rail Plan promised full electrification York-Leeds-Huddersfield-Manchester. It is pretty certain that will now happen.

"The IRP also promised Leeds-Bradford electrification. To make complete sense this needs to be accompanied by a commitment to electrify the full Calder Valley line from West Yorkshire to Manchester and Preston so York-Leeds-Bradford/Brighouse-Halifax-Hebden Bridge-Manchester/Blackpool trains can be fully electrified.

"Full electrification is the most energy efficient way of getting zero-carbon transport. Batteries and hydrogen waste more energy because of conversion processes. Electrification will pay for itself because electric trains are more reliable, more attractive to passengers, faster and cheaper to both run and maintain. Politicians need to understand this and persuade the Treasury.

"Pure electric trains are about 80% energy efficient (i.e. 20% wasted), battery trains about 65%, hydrogen trains maybe 33%. That means hydrogen trains waste maybe two thirds of the energy. We can not afford this waste in the future.

"Electrifying lines is also cheaper if there is a rolling programme. So when the Huddersfield and Leeds-Bradford lines are electrified the teams should just carry and do the rest of the CV route. A start could also be made at the other end by wiring Manchester-Rochdale-Littleborough, a simple extension of the Huddersfield line plan.

"We need full electrification of the Calder Valley line, not half measures.

"We also need to know when the proposed station at Elland is going to open."