Combined Authority agrees progress towards achieving its rail aspirations

Combined Authority agrees progress towards achieving its rail aspirations

Stations that provide attractive, high-quality gateways to West Yorkshire�s towns, cities and communities were among the rail ambitions agreed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority�s Transport Committee today.

Better connectivity nationally through HS2 and the East Coast mainline, across the north through a Northern Powerhouse route that includes stops at Bradford and Leeds and regionally through local network improvements were also identified as key elements of the county�s rail narrative. And measures to improve journeys for passengers such as integrated ticketing and fares, information and services, between rail journeys and with other modes of transport, are also an important part of the story.

Committee members also agreed there is a need to work with local rail franchise-holders Northern and TransPennine Express, Network Rail and the wider rail industry to examine how these ambitions can be achieved.

West Yorkshire�s rail narrative is about providing for growth in passenger and freight demand, as part of a wider multi-modal and integrated �One System�, transport network.

More train services needed

Within the City Region, improved infrastructure and more train services are needed to connect people with central hubs at Leeds, York, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Halifax and Leeds Bradford Airport where economic activity and jobs are set to be increasingly located.

A new and radically upgraded Northern Powerhouse Rail route serving Leeds, York and Bradford and an improved Calder Valley line would mean better links with other city regions and large towns across the north. And national rail connectivity through HS2 and the East Coast Main Line will mean better links with the Midlands, the North East, South West, Scotland, East Anglia, London and the continent. Creating a �Yorkshire Hub� in Leeds will help ensure those benefits are spread across the City Region.

Improving rail stations, their facilities and opportunities to interchange between transport modes will enable stations to become impressive gateways improving the welcome they provide as well as providing improved passenger facilities.

Transport Committee Chair Cllr Keith Wakefield said:

�By efficiently connecting our town and city centres with a wide range of communities across West Yorkshire, the City Region, other city regions and nationally, rail has an important role to play in achieving our Strategic Economic Plan�s vision of delivering �good� growth that benefits everyone.

�Large and growing numbers of people are using our rail network for sustainable commuting, business and leisure journeys and the level of freight being moved by train is increasing. Seventy per-cent of journeys between Shipley and Leeds are now made by rail.

�We want to ensure people right across the City Region enjoy the same high quality of train travel people using those services between Leeds, Shipley, Bradford Forster Square, Skipton and Ilkley. This includes greater integration of tickets and fares, better provision of information where and how people want it and more opportunity for simple interchange between modes of transport.

�Our railway stations are the first impressions our towns and cities give to passengers when they arrive, and we want them to be as impressive and welcoming as possible, to business and leisure travellers alike. And we need more new stations, for example at Elland and Thorpe Park, to build upon what we�ve already achieved at Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge and what we will achieve when Low Moor station between Bradford and Halifax is completed next year.

�If we are going to achieve all of these measures to support growth that benefits everyone across the City Region, we will need to work closely with Northern and TransPennine Express, Network Rail and the rest of the rail industry.�

Among the significant measures the Combined Authority will be seeking to achieve with rail industry partners are more frequent Sunday services with timetables more like weekdays, better links for Pontefract and the Five Towns area, an upgrade of the Leeds, Settle, Carlisle and Glasgow route and four trains hourly between Bradford and Manchester. Other proposals include more trains stopping at Kirkstall Forge and Low Moor stations, trains running on Boxing Day, earlier and later trains on some routes and Sunday trains between Leeds, Dewsbury, Brighouse, Calder Valley and Manchester, and between Huddersfield and Wakefield.

Cllr Wakefield added:

�New, faster trains, measures to reduce overcrowding at peak times and services to more places more often in the evenings and on Sundays are already in the pipeline through the Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises introduced in April.

�We welcome these and other measures such as staff at more stations, free Wi-Fi on trains and better customer information along with Network Rail�s planned electrification of the cross-Pennine route and improvements along the Calder Valley line.

�However, there are areas where the train operators� and Network Rails plans fall short of the Combined Authority�s aspirations, which is why we have confirmed today that we will work with those organisations to fill the gaps.�