Public consultation on major rail upgrade to begin in West Yorkshire.(Network Rail)

Public consultation on major rail upgrade to begin in West Yorkshire
(Network Rail Image)

Network Rail is to consult with the community and businesses in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, as plans for a major upgrade of the Transpennine line move into the next stage.

Planning for the Transpennine Upgrade – which will ultimately deliver a high performing, reliable railway for passengers with more seats, more trains and faster journeys between Manchester and York via Huddersfield and Leeds – is now approaching its final phase.

And as part of the planning and development of the £2.9bn investment, Network Rail will formally consult those living closest to the railway between Huddersfield and Westtown (Dewsbury) on the proposals for upgrading this 8-mile (13km) section of the route.

The proposals the public will be asked to feedback on for the Huddersfield to Westtown (Dewsbury) section include:

  • Doubling the number of tracks from two to four
  • Major upgrades to stations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe
  • Electrification
  • A proposed ‘grade separation’ – either a bridge or a tunnel – at Ravensthorpe that will separate two sections of track from each other

Kieran Dunkin, Principal Programme Sponsor at 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 is a significant and important next step in that development process.”

A series of public events will take place in communities between Huddersfield and Westtown (Dewsbury) in early September, with the feedback received helping to 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 TWAO is a legal power required for new railway infrastructure to be built outside of the existing operational railway boundary, which is part of the proposal between Huddersfield and Westtown (Dewsbury).

Landowners directly affected by the proposals were written to in the Summer, while every residential property and business within 1km (just over half a mile) either side of the railway will receive an invitation to the public consultation events in the post in August.

The first phase of consultation will close in late-October and Network Rail will then compile the feedback and consider it as part of the designs. A second phase of consultation targeted at the changes made as part of phase one will take place in Spring 2020 before the submission is made to the Secretary of State in Autumn 2020. A decision is expected in 2022 and if approved, work covered as part of the proposal is expected to begin immediately.