Plus: A homeless man found dead in the Gay Village
I've just broken off from my nightly routine of filling in delay repay claims to comment.
The DfT aren't serious about "accelerating" the TRU programme, and Huw Merriman (in a previous life a respected chair of the Transport Select Committee) must know this every bit as well as those of us who live along the route and use it daily.
1) I attended a public meeting in Marsden in 1999, at which Railtrack (as was) set out the capacity constraints on the route and their ideas for doing something about it. Glossy brochures were handed out. Almost none of the proposals were implemented.
2) Transpennine electrification was announced in the Autumn Statement 2011. 29th November saw the 12th birthday of the scheme. Since then it has been announced, paused, unpaused (is that even a word?), cancelled, reinstated, reannounced, reannounced piecemeal. more times than any of us can count. Sensible and less-than-sensible ideas have been included and then dropped from the scheme - it made no sense to drop station accessibility at Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden and Slaithwaite from the scheme, but that is exactly what the DfT did in September 2019. It took a lot of cross-party political support to get it reinstated into the scheme. We may have played a part in assembling that coalition of support. Then there's the idea of a new line from Warrington to Marsden which no-one around here thinks will happen. and which was only announced so that the then Secretary of State could go on Look North and say that High Speed Rail was still (just about) coming to Yorkshire. The vague notion of a new line from Huddersfield to Bradford is a similarly unrealistic idea, which can only have been thought of by someone with no knowledge of the geography of the area.
3) For most of that 12 years, Network Rail have been either unwilling or (because the DfT won't allow them) unable to come into communities like ours and discuss what disruption we will experience and what we as communities want TRU to deliver for us in return.
4) In that 12 years, no electrification has been completed and energised. The largest section nearing completion (Victoria to Stalybridge) is just 8 miles and was originally supposed to be part of an earlier scheme, the NW electrification project and supposed to be completed in 2016.
4) TRU is being approved piecemeal, so there's still little sense of what the completed scheme will look like and what it will deliver. The completion date (sometime in the 2030s, possibly) is so vague as to be meaningless.
[Chair, Slaithwaite & Marsden Action on Rail Transport,
Deputy Chair, Stalybridge to Huddersfield Rail Users' Group]
Right, time for a cathartic dissection of the latest re-announcement on the Transpennine Route Upgrade (like the Department hasn't wasted enough of my time already this week :-) )
1) The money is being spent on "accelerating" the TRU programme. Fine words, but given final scope and conditional outputs are skipping around like a magic eye puzzle every time the latest Minister (Who Merrriman?) wants something new to announce in the North, I strongly doubt there's much of a programme to accelerate. Back of a napkin stuff I suspect.
2) Huddersfield to Ravensthorpe was always going to be four track. That's all part of the critical desegregation and realignment that delivers you journey time savings and additional capacity (especially for freight) that the programme was designed to deliver. The successful TWAO was even announced as such by, you've guessed it, the Department in July 2022: https://www.modernrailways.com/article/tru-boost-upgrade-approved.....
3) Bloody Bradford. Firstly, it's very interesting that Northern Powerhouse Rail and TRU are now being mentioned in the same breath. It's almost like the former is slowly being folded into the latter in preparation for a quiet cancellation down the line ("but TRU delivers 90% of the benefits of NPR in half the time, etc"). Bradford has a bee in its bonnet for ages about connectivity due to the fact its not on the M62, nor the principle trans Pennine railway. In fact any trains going into Bradford then have to reverse out due to the fact it has two dead end stations. They've recently built a new Westfield shopping centre on the potential alignment between the two, despite this being a stalled hole in the ground for God knows how long. Now they've decided that they want a shiny new high speed station with some eye wateringly expensive approach tunnels stuck by a wholesale market on the outskirts of town. It'll never happen.
4) The figure being banded around for TRU about 6 months ago was £9bn. This was already insanely expensive by recent and international comparisons. Assuming however £9bn remains about right, this leaves a £2bn window for "acceleration" and building a Bradford to Leeds metro service to keep a few marginal seats happy. Good luck with that. It also ignores the inexorable march of construction inflation and the legal and consultancy heavy variation fees that every politically driven scope or programme change or redesign bring.....
Laugh? I nearly fell off my flying pig
That Spanish article brought some much needed joy to my day, from now on I will be referring to all food as 'scranch'.
re: stephenson square; does anyone know if it is genuinely finished? i assumed this was just wip.