A £1.5 billion rail electrification scheme which is set to transform the rail network between Huddersfield and Dewsbury – and bring years of disruption on road and rail – has been approved.
Network Rail has been given the go-ahead to completely transform train journeys between Huddersfield and Westtown outside Dewsbury as part of the TransPennine Route Upgrade.
The mammoth scheme will double the tracks from two to four on an eight-mile stretch of track and involve major renovations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe stations. Eight bridges will be demolished or widened, meaning months of disruption on the roads.
Huddersfield Railway Station will get a futuristic new look which will mean it will need a complete shutdown. The latest estimates said the station would be closed for two 32-day periods between March and April 2024 and April and May 2025. The A62 Leeds Road and Colne Bridge Road at Bradley will also be closed for extended periods for bridge works.
Network Rail says as well as supporting rapid economic growth in the North of England, the improvements will ultimately deliver more frequent, faster trains along a cleaner, greener, more reliable railway between York and Manchester.
The Transport and Works Act Order – required for any project that involves building new sections of railway outside of the existing boundaries – was approved by the Secretary of State for Transport on Monday (June 27) – six months earlier than planned. The project is one of the biggest applications ever made by Network Rail.
Neil Holm, TransPennine Route Upgrade director for Network Rail, said: “This is a massive success for the TransPennine Route Upgrade. It brings us another step closer to delivering faster, more frequent trains, and a greener, more reliable railway for passengers.
“Work on this part of the route is essential for unlocking wider benefits for passengers travelling between York and Manchester via Leeds and Huddersfield. It’ll allow us to run more trains along the route, giving passengers a much better chance of finding a seat and enjoying their journey.
“I’d like to thank everybody who has shown support and provided feedback on our plans throughout the planning process. Now we have this approval, we can progress our ambitious plans and designs and continue to work with communities on what’s to come.”
The plans will mean:
- Increasing the number of tracks from two to four, making way for more frequent, faster trains;
- A major remodelling of Huddersfield Railway Station along with upgrades for Deighton and Mirfield stations and a brand-new station built at Ravensthorpe;
- A flyover built near Ravensthorpe, which will separate the lines running to/from Wakefield with those to/from Leeds to help reduce congestion.
Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “Last year we committed a record breaking £96bn to transform the railway, bringing communities together and boosting local economies in the North and Midlands through Northern Powerhouse Rail and the TransPennine Route Upgrade.
“We will continue to deliver on our promise of more frequent, faster and greener travel for passengers.”
The approval was granted following three years of planning and public consultation, considering the views of residents, rail users and other stakeholders. A public inquiry was held in November and December 2021.
Chris Nutton, major projects director for TransPennine Express, said: “This announcement is a massive step forward towards delivering a railway fit for the 21st century across the North of England, which will provide real benefits for those that use our services and travel between some of our country’s biggest cities.
“The upgrade will not only improve connectivity for the communities that we serve, but also boost the economies of the towns and cities along the TransPennine route, providing greener, faster and more reliable services across the Pennines.”
Tony Baxter, regional director (East) at Northern Trains, said: “This is a significant milestone and a huge vote of confidence for the ambitious plans which will benefit Northern customers, not just along the TransPennine route, but across the entire Northern network.
“This work is the key to unlocking the huge potential for our trains and stations to better serve our communities. With faster, more frequent trains and more accessible, easier to use facilities at stations, our customers will benefit from supercharged connectivity between towns and cities across the Pennines, and beyond.”