A MASSIVE upgrade of the railway between Huddersfield and Dewsbury could mean FIVE YEARS of upheaval.
Network Rail have this week announced £1bn plans to electrify the eight-mile route between the two towns, double the number of tracks from two to four, totally overhaul Mirfield’s station and move Ravensthorpe Station 100 metres further up the line.
It is believed to be the biggest single rail upgrade scheme in the country.
Extra land would be needed on either side of the current railway for the project, which would create a 100 mph railway but affect hundreds of homes and businesses and lead to years of disruption and diversions.
Network Rail says it wants to fully rebuild Mirfield Station, scrapping the current westbound platform area and moving all facilities to the eastbound side, with new platforms and station buildings there.
Ravensthorpe Station will be moved about 100m closer to Mirfield to allow passengers access to the Wakefield line. A new bridge or tunnel and a new road would be needed, and the move would almost certainly affect the Newlay Concrete site on Calder Road.
A letter leaked from Network Rail to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling last year said there would be line closures for 39 weeks a year from 2020 to 2024 on the wider £2.9bn Transpennine upgrade. The project will eventually cut journey times between York, Leeds and Manchester and boost capacity, but all trains between Huddersfield and Leeds – including all through North Kirklees – could be diverted for up to five years.
Passengers would have to use rail replacement buses, while services that run the full Transpennine route would be diverted through Calderdale or via Sheffield.
Rail officials say that landowners directly affected by their proposals have been written to over the summer, and every residential property and business within half a mile either side of the railway – around 25,000 people – will receive an invitation to public consultation events.
Kieran Dunkin, of Network Rail, said: “The Transpennine Upgrade will deliver the benefits passengers want from their railway with more reliability, more trains and more seats, and shorter journey times.
“The eagerly-anticipated upgrade of the Transpennine route is approaching the final stages of development, and asking passengers and our neighbours for their feedback on our plans for the section between Huddersfield and Westtown (Dewsbury) is a significant and important next step in that development process.”
Network Rail also said it was aware of the massive Dewsbury Riverside housing development, which could see more than 4,000 homes built on land between Ravensthorpe, Thornhill Lees and Mirfield.
There will be consultation events at Mirfield Community Centre on Water Royd Lane, on Tuesday September 17 (12pm-8pm) and Wednesday September 18 (12pm-6.30pm); at Dewsbury West Community Centre on Church Street, Ravensthorpe on Thursday September 19 (12pm-8pm) and on Saturday September 21 (10am-1.30pm)
A second phase of consultation will take place in spring 2020 and the feedback will form part of a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) submission that Network Rail will make to the Secretary of State for Transport in autumn 2020.
A decision is expected in 2022 and if approved, work would begin almost immediately.
Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Paula Sherriff has long campaigned for improvements to rail travel in her constituency and said: “Having secured assurances from rail bosses in March, over the future of Ravensthorpe and Mirfield train stations, I am pleased to see that plans have now been bolstered by this announcement of £1bn investment in train travel between Huddersfield and Dewsbury. I’m delighted that this will include the promised retention and full refurbishment of Mirfield and Ravensthorpe stations.”
For more information, email TranspennineEngagement@networkrail.co.uk.