Working with local businesses and Huddersfield based groups Huddersfield Unlimited has established an initial position on rail investment and responded to the Network Rail consultation on the upgrade of TransPennine that closed on the 30 April 2020.
Huddersfield Unlimited welcomes the proposed upgrade of TransPennine between Huddersfield and Leeds to reduce journey times and improve station facilities, which in turn will support the economic health of the town.
It further urges the government to urgently bring forward proposals for upgrade of the remaining line between Huddersfield and Stalybridge. Northern Powerhouse rail is too far into the future and the connectivity benefits for Huddersfield too uncertain, so further short term investment on the existing local railway infrastructure is necessary, reflecting the economic importance to the town of links between Huddersfield, Manchester City Centre and Manchester Airport. Fast and modern links to Manchester Airport are particularly important for the Town’s manufacturers, its digital and creative sector, other businesses and its University, in terms of global reach.
Further investment should include Marsden station in the Colne Valley and further investment in selective double tracking on the Penistone line to achieve a potentially half-hourly service, together with further station improvements. Both are necessary to improve connectivity and journey times on all Huddersfield stations to Sheffield.
Huddersfield Unlimited also calls on Network Rail to further engage with Huddersfield businesses with a view to minimising the disruption to businesses during the construction phase, to the maximum extent possible and calls for specific assurances over the frequency and quality of services from Huddersfield Station to Manchester Airport during the TransPennine Upgrade work.
TransPennine Consultation Overall Comments
Huddersfield Unlimited supports the overall scheme as a way of improving fast and local services and connectivity to the east of Huddersfield. We do welcome the information provided in the current consultation and will engage with proposals as they continue to be developed for the Huddersfield and its environs.
The absence of proposals for upgrade of the line and stations between Huddersfield and Stalybridge remain a major concern, as does the disruption that will be caused to Huddersfield businesses during the upgrade. Huddersfield Unlimited calls for a linked consultation with train operators to ensure the most effective maintenance of rail services, including to Manchester Airport during this disruption.
We join other Huddersfield groups in requesting a consultation exercise specifically regarding the substantial changes proposed for Huddersfield Station.
We wish to express serious concern that there is no reference to the ‘Station Gateway’ proposals contained in of Kirklees Council’s Huddersfield Town Centre Blueprint Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), the final consultation for which closed on 30 March 2020. The SPD provides for many features we believe crucial to the future success of the station, including a new western station entrance and a full subway link from St. George’s Square to the railway warehouse and adjacent land. We believe that the needs here of town and railway are very inter-related and totally compatible and that network rail should undertake to work with the Council to incorporate theses aspects into the station design.
We also believe that these proposals should incorporate substantially increased car parking provision, also with provision for electric vehicle charging points in line with the ‘Station Gateway’ section of Kirklees Council’s Huddersfield Blueprint SPD. These are currently omitted. Car parking for rail users is already inadequate and reduces potential rail passenger numbers. We do not see how proposals for increased usage of Huddersfield station can be satisfactorily progressed without taking the above matters into consideration.
More detailed comments made on specific consultation questions are available on request
A core working group has been established to take forward work on transport and connectivity, recognising the constraints associated with COVID 19. If you are interested in contributing to the work of the Group please contact Huddersfield Unlimited or visit our Transport page for more information.
We are particularly grateful to Huddersfield Civic Society for their collaboration in responding to the Trans Pennine consultation.