Holly Lynch at Sowerby Bridge Railway Station

Halifax MP Holly Lynch has warned that proposed changes to rail timetables by train operator Northern could see a cut to services at Sowerby Bridge station.


Northern are currently working with Network Rail to determine the timetable proposals for the Calder Valley Line from May 2018 which will impact the frequency of services, which stations they stop at, and the times of the first and last trains of the day.


Ms Lynch has written to Northern’s Director Alan Chaplin, highlighting a number of changes which she believes will negatively impact rail users in Sowerby Bridge.


She has raised concerns that the last direct train from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge could be as early as 21:20, that there will be a diminished service for those travelling from Sowerby Bridge to Huddersfield, and that direct services on Sundays from Sowerby Bridge to Todmorden and Manchester could be discontinued.


Commenting on the proposed changes Ms Lynch said:


“There are many problems with Northern services at present, including massive overcrowding for commuters so I’m working closely with local rail users to ensure that things start to improve.


“I appreciate that it is difficult to schedule trains so that everyone is happy with the result, however it does appear that Sowerby Bridge is being left behind with these particular proposals.


“Cuts to services at Sowerby Bridge could bring a number of problems for rail users. For example those heading for a night out in Manchester could be forced to return home just after 9 o’clock, or pay for a taxi at significant extra expense.


“There are elements here that are to be welcomed such as the new routes to Manchester Airport and Chester due to Network Rail’s construction of the new ‘Ordsall Chord’ in Manchester.


“However, to maximise the benefit of these investments it is crucial that Sowerby Bridge is well served by the new timetable.”

Halifax Action District Rail Action Group’s (HADRAG) have also campaigned on this issue. Their ‘Rail Views’ Autumn 2017 reads:

HADRAG and the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group responded jointly to Northern’s timetable proposals. Welcoming new connectivity, we also listed a catalogue of concerns-unintended consequences maybe of ambitious plans. The train company will have submitted its proposals to Network Rail by now. We hope at least some of our concerns will have been addressed. More detail on website but some key points include:

  • Calder Valley Manchester trains to go through all day hourly to Chester and to Manchester Airport – the expected good news.
  • York-Blackpool trains to call Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd all day ? long standing HADRAG aspiration and welcome increase in weekday frequency. But these two stations appear to have no Sunday trains to Manchester – surely not acceptable.
  • Brighouse (Leeds-Halifax-Huddersfield) to go hourly on Sundays, improving on present 2-hourly. But no proposal to run the Leeds-Brighouse-Manchester service on Sundays – missing an opportunity to develop leisure travel along the valley.
  • Loss of attractive connections upper Calderdale-Huddersfield.
  • Uneven spacing of 4 trains/hour service Leeds-Halifax/Hebden Bridge – far from even quarter-hourly. Pathing of the new services round Manchester and via the new Ordsall Chord has resulted in a less than ideal pattern eastwards towards Leeds.
  • Some increased journey times via the Brighouse Line. Leeds-Brighouse-Manchester trains are to run fast Rochdale Manchester but look to be little if any faster overall because of extra time between Brighouse and Sowerby Bridge. Disappointing.
  • Missing early morning trains Halifax/Brighouse-Leeds.
  • Late evening Manchester-Calder Valley trains not serving intermediate stations such Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd despite being improved to half-hourly. Surely this can be fixed!
  • HADRAG is also concerned about the next big timetable change in December 2019. We have asked for a meeting with the train company.
  • Update to follow in Winter edition of Rail Views.

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