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Trains: end the strike and invest in our line, says leader of Council

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Delays and cancellations on the Calder Valley line are having a severe impact on businesses and commuters according to the Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift.

The latest performance figures published by Northern Rail, which owns the franchise across much of the North of England, including the Calder Valley line, show that only 39.7% of the company’s trains arrived at their destination on time. 

The introduction of the new timetable in May 2018 caused chaos throughout the national rail network, with the Calder Valley line being particularly badly hit.  

In the first three days 25 services were cancelled and over a third of services (36%) were delayed by three minutes or more. 

The line is consistently one of the poorest performers across the West Yorkshire network.

Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift said, "We deserve a 21st century rail service.  We need rapid, reliable trains and clean, good quality carriages with Wi-Fi, so that people can commute in comfort and arrive at their destination on time.

“It isn’t good enough that services are frequently late.  We need people to choose to travel by train as it’s a more sustainable form of transport but that’s not realistic if the service is unreliable.   And all too frequently passengers are squeezed into two carriages when four should have been provided.

“We demand better, it’s time for the Government to invest more and to upgrade the line.  Enough is enough.”

Major employers including Lloyds Banking Group and RSA main hubs are located in Calderdale, while Nestles International, Covea Insurance and SSP have global headquarters in Halifax.  The rail service is essential for these businesses and their workforce.  And many companies based in Leeds and Manchester depend upon employees living in Calderdale who commute by train. 

Calderdale Council is committed to the campaign for the electrification of the Calder Valley line.  This would improve journey times; make train services more reliable, cheaper to run and less costly for passengers; help cut congestion on the roads; and reduce impacts on the environment through better air quality and fewer carbon dioxide emissions.

The Council also wants faster, more frequent trains; better access for walkers, cyclists and buses; and improved station car parking.

Arriva Northern should end the rail strike

Cllr Swift has also written to the Managing Director of Arriva Northern urging them to end the rail strike:

Dear Mr Brown

I am writing to voice my deep concern about the damage being caused to Calderdale residents and businesses by the continuing industrial action and associated disruption, and to call on Northern to act to end the dispute by addressing the underlying cause.

You will of course be aware of the statement from Transport for the North yesterday. I fully agree with their views that the insistence on single person operation on the franchise is wrong, and the problems over the last year with delays and heavily overcrowded trains only emphasise the need for the additional staffing to be retained. I also agree with them about the issues with many unstaffed stations with poor access.

I also need to advise you that at our Council meeting last week councillors from all sides voiced their concern about the damage that the disruption is causing to our local businesses in the pre Christmas period. This is a vital time for traders particularly in market towns such as Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, all of whom are heavily dependent on your rail service.

It has also been suggested to me by many travellers that the replacement bus services have been even less adequate in recent weeks than they were in early stages of this dispute, and I would welcome your comments on that.

My main focus however is in urging you to act to end the dispute. I believe that the statement from Transport for the North yesterday, confirming not only their wish for you to settle but also their willingness to make sure there are no legal barriers in the way of any agreement through the franchise, provides a strong imperative for you to act. I hope for the sake of the communities I represent that you will be able to do so.

Cllr Tim Swift
Leader of the Council
Calderdale MBC

See also

Continued Rail Strikes hit Hebden Bridge badly - see Look North report

Northern Resist - Facebook group of nearly 4000 frustrated rail travellers.