By Nathan Findlay –
Network Rail has submitted a formal request to begin ‘major improvements’ that aim to transform the line between Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
What are the planned improvements?
The plans, which came about following two rounds of public and stakeholder consultations, include:
- Doubling the number of tracks from two to four to allow more trains to run.
- Major upgrades to stations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and providing a relocated station at Ravensthorpe.
- Electrifying the lines to bring faster, more reliable services for passengers which are better for the environment.
- Building a bridge in Ravensthorpe to separate the lines which run to/from Wakefield with those to/from Leeds to help reduce congestion and bring more reliable journeys.
As the improvements on the 13km stretch of the line include building new sections of railway outside of the existing network, Network Rail was required to submit a Transport and Works Order Act to the Secretary of State for Transport.
The planned work will form part of the wider Transpennine Route Upgrade, which has been going for quite some time already and has been aiming to transform journeys between Manchester and York via Huddersfield and Leeds.
How were the plans debated?
Several events took place in Autumn 2019 which allowed people to view the plans and share feedback.
Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic and several lockdowns meant that further face to face events would not take place.
People were instead given the opportunity to view the plans and submit further feedback online.
In between lockdowns two and three in October 2020, a round of information events was held.
With social distancing measure in pace, the public was invited to attend the events to see the plans in person.
Speaking on the proposed plans, Neil Holm, Transpennine Route Upgrade Director for Network Rail, said: “We know improvements are needed on this section of the line between Huddersfield and Westtown (Dewsbury) and submitting the Transport and Works Order Act is a major milestone in the project to upgrade the route and better connect the North.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges to our extensive public and stakeholder consultation, but we continued to hold our events virtually and made the plans available online.
“We want to thank everyone who has provided feedback, which has been vital in shaping the plans.
“If approved, the project will bring a more reliable railway with more trains, more seats, faster journeys and more choice for passengers.”
Now the application has been formally submitted, a decision is expected to be made by early 2023. If successful, work will begin on-site the same year.