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Campaign to get rail line electrified will continue, despite 'missed opportunity' over Northern Powerhouse Rail

A CAMPAIGN to have a cross-Pennine rail line electrified will continue after a senior councillor dubbed recent Government transport announcements “a wasted opportunity.”

Calderdale Council Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said she was disappointed with what was being offered in the wake of the Government’s decision to scrap high speed HS2 rail links to Leeds and Bradford.

Instead the Government did announce a £96 billion Integral Rail Plan which it says will bring local service upgrades and faster journeys a decade sooner than planned, but this did not impress Coun Scullion.

“I feel sad, disappointed and angry about the Integral Rail Plan – what a missed opportunity, we have actually been short-changed again,” she said.

In times when there was a need to do something about climate change, taking wagons hauling freight off the M62, Calderdale was being left with diesel trains “chugging up and down” instead of an electrified rail line the council had long lobbied for, said Coun Scullion.

“We didn’t get the electrification we have hammered on about for years.

“What we are going to do is campaign for electrification sooner rather than later.

“In Calderdale we are not giving up, we will continue this campaign – a low emission, zero carbon electrification programme needs to be the start,” she said.

Coun Scullion said an issue might be if the route from Bradford to Leeds was electrified but the rest of the Calder Valley line was not.

“The worst possible scenario here is having to change trains at Bradford to move onto an electrical system.

“What a wasted opportunity,” she said.

Coun Sarah Courtney (Lab, Calder) was concerned about the number of HGVs on the road, air quality, road safety and strain put on road infrastructure, coupled with a lack of coast-to-coast rail routes and frustration regarding the electrification of the Calder Valley line.

Referencing the Government’s HS2 decision, she had asked: “Can I ask Cabinet members what are the implications to the council of the HS2 decision for Calderdale and what benefits can come from properly funded coast to coast services?”

Coun Courtney asked her question in the questions-to-Cabinet section of the final full council meeting of 2021.