Referring to recent Government announcements about major rail Projects for the North, Steven Leigh, Head of Policy for  the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, comments:

“The Prime Ministers commitment to improving rail connectivity across the North of England is welcomed – but it is vital Huddersfield, Halifax and Wakefield are not left behind.

Transport for the North has set out the case for Government funding of £39bn to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail, which proposes some new routes and a series of upgrades to the regional network. It is important that this regional connectivity is implemented alongside the £56bn which is already being set aside for HS2.”

“Notwithstanding this, when speaking in Manchester last month, the Prime Minister undertook  to have a deal in place by the end of this year between Local and Central Government for a new railway line between Manchester and Leeds. We believe that these plans could include an entirely new High-Speed line which would be implemented separately to Network Rail’s planned £3bn trans-Pennine route upgrades.”

“Putting aside for a moment any brand-new railway projects, it is good to see that funding appears to be promised for the Network Rail Pennine route upgrades. These upgrades, amongst others, relate to the electrification and modernisation of the Calder Valley Line (Manchester [Victoria]-Halifax-Bradford-Leeds) and the Transpennine Line (Manchester [Piccadilly]-Huddersfield-Leeds). These upgrades are certainly affordable and within the realms of being achieveable, and they are absolutely vital to any of the future plans for reliable and resilient Northern Rail Connectivity.”

“This is because the two routes complement one another and maximise the resiliance of trans-Pennine railway services in a region which experiences frequent bad-weather conditions and potential winter service disruption – by providing alternative route options across the Pennines.

Both lines need to be electrified to ensure seamless operation and maximum comfort and speed.”

The Mid Yorkshire Chamber Managing Director, Martin Hathaway, added:

“Our Chamber area which comprises Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield sits at the very heart of the Northern Powerhouse, and the choice of railway projects needs to reflect the best value for money whilst bringing fast, efficient and reliable railway services to the wider population in the region.”