Kirklees councillors debate Transpennine rail upgrade

At its formal Council Meeting tonight (14 July 2021), Kirklees councillors debated their response to Network Rail’s transformative Transpennine Route Upgrade. The multi-billion pound programme will improve rail connectivity between Kirklees and the rest of the North of England.

The plan, which is welcomed by Kirklees Council, would see extensive works being carried out on an eight-mile section of the railway between Huddersfield and Dewsbury in the coming years. The council has closely examined the proposals from Network Rail and are now asking for more information to fine tune the technical details and minimise disruption for residents during construction.

The upgrade plan will double the number of tracks from two to four, electrify the route from Huddersfield to Dewsbury and make big improvements to the four stations in this section – Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe. There are also plans to separate the lines going to/from Leeds from the lines going to/from Wakefield, with either a bridge or a tunnel. Once complete, the upgrade will mean more trains, improved journey times and greater reliability for local commuters.

As a major and complex engineering project, it also comes with potential disruption for residents, visitors and commuters during the construction phases. The council is asking for assurances from Network Rail that the impact of the works will be minimised for Kirklees residents, especially in relation to noise, traffic and environmental impacts.

Councillor Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration said: “We welcome this investment in Kirklees. We are certain that the Transpennine Route Upgrade is in the best interests of us all. Improved travel from Kirklees and into the North of England is essential for our economic future.

“At the same time, we have a duty to look out for the best interests of residents. That’s why we’re asking to work with Network Rail to minimise the impact on local roads and environment. We have a really positive relationship with Network Rail and I’m confident further discussions with them will have a good outcome for local people.

“Our questions are vital but are an objection only in name. This is a technical process that we must go through to ensure the programme can proceed in a way that benefits our towns and residents.”

Councillors supported the representations made by the council staff in May.