Sunday, 31 August 2014

Transport: Full steam ahead for rail electrification?

The campaign to upgrade Calder Valley’s rail line has been given a major boost after it was revealed that the task force considering electrification projects in the North has confirmed that the line is now being 'seriously looked at' by Network Rail.

In February, when the list of lines being considered for upgrade was announced, Calder Valley was not included. But intense pressure from campaigners and lobbyists has highlighted its importance to decision makers.

If successful, the Calder Valley line could see electrification by 2024.

Deputy Labour leader Barry Collins, said: “The absolutely impassioned lobbying campaign we’ve run in the last six months has paid off.

“Our target was to ensure that the Calder Valley line would be in the frame for potential electrification, and we’re now in the frame - this is really good news.

“We need to make sure that we keep pressing hard so that when the task force presents its findings in February, the Calder Valley line is included.”

Campaigners have long been calling for improved signalling, modern trains and electrification of the line amid worries that Calderdale is being left behind.

Chancellor George Osborne is also being lobbied to back a £15 billion plan to revolutionise transport across the North to redress the balance of rail funding which in recent years has given priority to the South East.

The One North report, put together by transport executives across the North, includes proposals for a 125 mph transpennine rail link that would reduce rail journey times between Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester to 30 minutes alongside the electrification of the Calder Valley line and improvements to rolling stock across the network.

In a video address given to the Electrification Task Force, Baroness Kramer said: “For most, if not all of the North of England’s railways, it is a case of when they will be electrified, not if.”

Council leader Stephen Baines said: “It could mean a major improvement for travel which could have knock-on effects for the economy in Calderdale.”

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