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Behind the idea

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Momentum is gathering behind the idea of including Bradford on a high-speed line between Manchester and Leeds, according to the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has commissioned Arup to investigate the options.

[‘Plans to transform Bradford Forster Square station remain on track’, Claire Wilde, T&A, 6 Feb 2017]

The T&A has found out that the possible options being explored include:

* A through line for Bradford city centre for the first time in its history;

* Bringing the high-speed line underneath the existing city, using tunnels, cuttings, or both;

* A new underground high-speed platform built beneath Bradford Interchange;

* Possible pedestrian subways linking this to Bradford Forster Square station.

[…] The feasibility study will be fed back to working group Transport for the North (TfN) which has been given £60 million of Government funding to draw up proposals for a high-speed link between Leeds and Manchester, which is now called Northern Powerhouse Rail.

If the government cannot fund the electrification of the Selby to Hull railway, what are the chances of a new ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’ line being built between Manchester and Leeds, via Bradford?

Bradford, OpenStreetMap

Before the construction of the Broadway development, there would have been the possibility of an affordable heavy rail link across Bradford city centre. However, the council and Integrated Transport Authority, failed to protect an alignment.

Bradford's Forster Square and Exchange stations (1947)

In 1947 Bradford’s Forster Square and Exchange stations were closer together than they are now

Written by beleben

February 7, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Northern museums under threat

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The National Media Museum in Bradford is one of three northern museums under direct threat of closure, the director of the Science Museum Group warned today (by Dolores Cowburn, Telegraph and Argus, 5th June 2013).

As well as the Science Museum in London, the group runs the National Media Museum, the National Railway Museum in York and the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

Its director Ian Blatchford said the prospect of a further ten per cent cut in Government funding meant “almost certainly” that one of three northern museums would have to go.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One, Mr Blatchford said the cuts would increase the group’s £2 million a year deficit to about £6m a year.

How much is a £6 million-a-year deficit alongside other expenditure? Well, according to author Frank Ledwidge, the war in Afghanistan has cost Britain £15 million a day since 2006.

All the same, it was probably a mistake for the NRM to get involved with restoration of the money pit ‘Flying Scotsman’ locomotive. And a mistake for the three Northern museums to have been put under the control of the Science Museum. There needs to be a separate Northern heritage assets trust.

Written by beleben

June 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Posted in Bradford, Manchester

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HS2 and West Yorkshire, part three

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On 6 February, Bradford East MP David Ward (Liberal Democrat) asked the government about economic benefits for Bradford from HS2, and received a boilerplate soundbite answer.

Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to ensure that Bradford and Leeds-Bradford airport receive the maximum potential economic benefit from Phase 2 of High Speed 2.

Mr Simon Burns: Phase Two of High Speed 2 will transform journey times, capacity and connectivity between major cities of the north, Midlands and London, enabling northern regions to fulfil their economic potential.

HS2 will also free up space on the existing rail network for additional commuter, regional and freight services, offering more opportunity for services to meet local needs. Latest estimates published in August 2012 suggest HS2 will deliver net benefits of £64 billion including over £15 billion in wider economic impacts. If local areas seize the opportunity offered by HS2 these benefits could be greater. HS2 Ltd will undertake further work to assess the sub-national, regional and local economic impacts of HS2.

The only West Yorkshire station in the HS2 Y network would be the terminus at Leeds New Lane. There is no provision for trains to continue to other parts of the county. A London to Bradford journey on HS2 would require a change of train — and change of station — in Leeds.

Most of the population of West Yorkshire does not live in Leeds. To avoid the permanent disutility of interchange penalties and inconvenience embedded in the Y network concept, the whole project needs to be looked at afresh.

Written by beleben

February 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Bradford, High speed rail, HS2, Leeds, West Yorkshire

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Tram-train tribulations

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Tram-trains are a well-established concept in continental Europe, but in Great Britain, the government has seem them as experimental technology that needs to be ‘trialled’.

In March 2008 the Department for Transport announced it would fund a two year trial of diesel tram-trains on the Sheffield to Huddersfield Line. Unsurprisingly, the scheme went nowhere, and in September 2009, it was cancelled in favour of a pilot of electric tram-trains between Rotherham and Sheffield’s Supertram network. As part of the evaluation, a Network Rail freight line was to be equipped with 750V dc tramway electrification, and in July 2011 Vossloh was selected as vehicle bidder for a service intended to commence in 2014.

As South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive had already committed to introducing bus rapid transit between Sheffield and Rotherham, the transport value of the tram scheme isn’t very large. Its technology value is equally questionable, because Tyne and Wear Metro have been inter-running dc trains on Network Rail track to Sunderland for the last ten years.

However, there are some potentially useful applications for tram-trains.

Merseyrail Northern line

Merseyrail Ormskirk to Skelmersdale tram train concept

Liverpool’s Merseyrail network includes tracks electrified using the direct current 3rd rail system (similar to that used on the ex-Southern Region). In the 1970s, an upgrade programme was commenced, but although the loop-and-link in central Liverpool was completed, other elements of the project — such as restoration of the railway to Skelmersdale — were abandoned.

Merseyrail tram train, Speke Airport access concept

South of central Liverpool, Speke’s John Lennon Airport has never had a station on the rail network, but was intended to be served by the ill-fated and amateurish Merseytram light rail project. Currently, the fastest public transport to the airport from the city centre involves a rail trip to Liverpool South parkway station, then a transfer to bus.

The lowest cost solution to providing seamless journeys to Skelmersdale and John Lennon Airport is to build light rail extensions from Merseyrail with 750V dc tramway electrification. To operate the service, high floor dual-pickup tram-trains would be required.

Bradford Crossrail

Bradford Exchange - Forster Square tram-train concept

In Bradford, there are two dead-end railway stations serving different parts of the city centre. The costs of providing a conventional cross-city rail link are likely to be unfundable, so a more affordable possibility would be to build an on-street connection with 750V dc tramway electrification. The tram-trains would need to be high-floor-dual-system, so as to run on 25kV ac electrified Network Rail track.

Written by beleben

March 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm