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Calderdale signs up, as TRU proposals emerge


Bromsgrove electric zeke

Updating our recent post, we record with thanks the decision of Calderdale Council to sign up in support of the Electric Railway Charter. Following an earlier report agreed at council cabinet, Calderdale will now campaign to make electrification of our line top priority – as it was in the “Northern Sparks” all-party task force report of three years ago. The full resolution passed at full council on 19 September copied below.

TRU latest:

Meanwhile news has come out (a deliberate leak?) on the TransPennine (Huddersfield line) Route Upgrade, which looks to be proposing (as expected) “some” electrification. You might think this would include the section through the hills between Huddersfield and Stalybridge where the superior performance of electric traction would help to cut journey times. You might also expect the easy section from Leeds to York to be included, filling a short gap in existing wiring between Leeds Neville Hill depot and the East Coast Main Line at Colton Junction. But no, all that seemed to be mentioned in the news that came out was Leeds-Huddersfield, and Stalybridge-Manchester (which latter should actually have been finished by now as part if the North West scheme).

It sounds like there will be extra capacity, involving reinstatement of four tracks along the Huddersfield-Mirfield corridor. Campaigning rail user groups in the Calder Valley hope this will enable more services through Elland and Brighouse.

Sadly the news seemed to emphasise the disruption that would be caused whilst the work is carried out with long blockades of sections of the Manchester-Huddersfield-Leeds route. We hope this is not part of a softening-up process to prepare us for a more negative announcement. Smart ways of working should be adopted with work being done at night and at less busy times. Remember that in the 1980s British Rail electrified the East Coast Main Line from Hitchin to Edinburgh, 360 miles, with considerably less fuss than is currently being made about a fraction of that distance in the Pennines.

Our call:

The Electric Railway Charter calls for a rolling programme of electrification across the north, starting with the Calder Valley as a natural follow-on to the Huddersfield Line. We believe a smarter approach can minimise the cost, time taken and disruption during construction. The message should be that we need a well-planned programme to develop a modern, environmentally sustainably railway that offers high capacity and high performance with traction that aims for zero-carbon, zero-emissions.

Text of Calderdale Council resolution follows:

 

This Council notes that:

·       Thousands of people commute in and out of Calderdale each week making good transport links vital to our local economy and those of the towns and cities along the route of the Calder Valley Line;

·       in 2015 the government-appointed Northern Rail Electrification Task Force identified the Calder Valley line as the  highest priority for electrification, but that despite this it appears there are no  current plans for the electrification of our rail line;

·       the UK railways lag far behind other countries in terms of electrification with only 40% of our lines electrified compared to 56% in Germany and 73% in the Netherlands;

·       the failure of Northern Rail to implement the 2018 time table changes cost the economy in the north £38 million;

·       in the four weeks commencing 30 July 2018 113 services on the Calder Valley line were cancelled and 767 services were over three or more minutes late;

·       for every £10 spent on rail in the south of England there is only £1 spent in the north;

·       Cabinet has resolved that Calderdale shall be a signatory of the the “Electric Railway Charter” – a campaign of rail users on the Calder Valley line calling for the line to be electrified.

This Council believes that:

Electrification would make the line more efficient, allowing faster acceleration and deceleration and decreasing the required space between trains, enabling additional services to run on the line and meet the growing demand for high quality transport between Manchester, Calderdale, Bradford and Leeds;

whilst current planned investments are welcome and overdue, electrification remains the best long-term option for securing a reliable service, with the Manchester to Bradford journey time being reduced to under an hour for the first time;

with new technology such as longer life lithium batteries trains can now operate on lines like the Calder Valley line which would have previously been challenging owing to the number of tunnels on the line;

better train services on the Calder Valley line would vastly improve the lives of the 2.7 million who commute between Leeds, Manchester and Bradford.  A more reliable rail system would support local economies and take pressure off the road network.  Electric trains emit up to 35% less CO2 in stations and are across their routes, less polluting that older diesel units.

This Council therefore:

i.      Recognises the longstanding commitment of Halifax and District Rail Action Group and other northern transport organisations to the campaign for electrification of the Calder Valley Line;

ii.     Welcomes and endorses the decision of Cabinet on 3rd September 2018 to endorse the ‘Electric Railway Charter 2018”;

iii.    Requests that the Leader calls on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Transport for the North to continue to give a high priority to supporting the case for electrification of the Calder Valley line; and

iv.   Requested that the Leader urges the MPs for Halifax and the Calder Valley to take all possible steps to support this campaign, including lobbying the Secretary of State for Transport for a clear commitment to an ambitious timetable for delivering the electrification of this vital route.

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Electric Railway Charter update September 2018 – Calderdale takes up campaign. Smart electrification for our line?

THE campaign for railway electrification has been moving ahead since we launched the Electric Railway Charter in Halifax in May 2018. 

P1070172
Northern railway terminal electrified nearly 60 years ago. But most of the trains in this picture are still diesels because most lines in the North are not electrified. The Electric Railway Charter aims for a railway sustainable in terms of the local and global environment, physical resources and efficient, economic operation that will be an attractive alternative to future road transport, promoting good growth; and for a rolling programme of electrification across the North, based on recommendations of the “Northern Sparks” task force report to Government (March 2015), with the Calder Valley Line as top-ranked scheme.

This blog brings the good news that Calderdale Council’s cabinet has agreed to lobby Government, MPs and Network Rail in an effort to bring forward electrification of the Calder Valley Line. This is a significant boost to our campaign. Benefits of electric railways are highlighted in the Calderdale report . As we argue in the Charter, these include:

  • Better performance by electric trains leading to improved journey times and increased services
  • Reduced wear and tear on track making the service cheaper to run [along with other factors such as lower capital and running costs of electric trains]
  • Environmental gains – working towards slashing CO2 emissions and air pollution. As the Charter says, as electricity generation moves towards zero carbon, so will electric transport.
  • A more attractive service – recognised “sparks effect” of passengers increasing after electrification
  • Consistency of operation with other regional electrified routes
  • The opportunity to reduce costs of construction and disruption by means of “smart” electrification (see below).

The Calderdale report recommends the council working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority and other local authorities along the line. And it recommends the Council become a signatory of the Electric Railway Charter, closely aligned as the report is with Charter aims and arguments.

So we are on our way. Backing Calderdale’s approach, the Charter founders will be contacting members of other local authorities along the line through Bradford, Rochdale and into Manchester and East Lancashire. Remember the March 2015 task force report Northern Sparks recommended the “full” Calder Valley Line as top scheme – “full” meaning the routes from Leeds to both Manchester and Preston via both Bradford and Brighouse through Calderdale, Rochdale and East Lancs.

At our May launch event in Halifax we were delighted to have the support of Halifax MP Holly Lynch. Now we are asking every MP along the line to sign up as a Charter supporter. 

We have also been spreading the word with Charter appearances at a TravelWatch North-West conference in Blackpool, and then at Railfuture’s summer conference in Carlisle where we gave a mini-workshop on the electrification arguments.

TRU hopes

Meanwhile, the government is, we understand, about to invite Transport for the North to express its views on options put forward by Network Rail for the TransPennine Route Upgrade (TRU). To be clear, that means the Huddersfield Line between York, Leeds and Manchester, originally meant to be a full electrification scheme. With cancellation of other electrification schemes a year ago, and TransPennine Express getting new diesel and diesel-bimode trains for the route, that seemed to be in doubt. But it has now been at least hinted by the Secretary of State that TRU will include at least some electrification. This could just mean the “easy” sections Leeds to York and Selby, but there is a clear logic in also wiring the central Pennine section Leeds-Huddersfield-Manchester where gradients could make it difficult for the heavy bimode trains in diesel power to keep to existing timings, let alone achieve the performance possible with pure electric traction.

  • The Electric Railway Charter calls for wiring of the Calder Valley Line through Bradford, Calderdale, Rochdale and East Lancashire as a natural follow-on to the TRU via Huddersfield.

Smart wiring in the (Welsh) Valleys and smart buses in Harrogate set examples!

Main line electrification from Cardiff to Swansea was one of the schemes cancelled last year, but it’s a different story on the neighbouring Cardiff Valleys lines, where 107km of track will be wired under the new Transport for Wales rail franchise to be developed and operated by Keolis-Amey. Electrification used to mean rebuilding bridges and lowering tracks through tunnels to provide clearance for the 25kV overhead wires. But the proposal in the Valleys is to avoid the cost and disruption of major civils work at 55 locations by having permanently earthed (“neutral”) sections where trains will switch for a short distance to battery power. Batteries will also be used on the final 15 km of the valley line to Rhymney. Battery charging will take place during normal running on live sections. It’s simple really!

This type of smart electrification could be ideal for our own Calder Valley Line where we have our fair share of tunnels and bridges. Trains with a modest amount of battery storage could eliminate the need for inefficient diesel bimode trains.

One of our Charter arguments is that rail transport must keep up with moves to clean up road transport with low or zero emission vehicles. In Harrogate, bus company TransDev is about to start operating electric buses. Batteries will be charged overnight and topped-up in layovers of just a few minutes between trips.

  • There is no doubt that electric transport is the future. The Calder Valley Line and other train routes across the North must be part of the revolution.

The arguments for electrification remain clear. Here’s a concise reminder:

  • Economic and business casecompared with diesels, electric trains are cheaper to build, more reliable requiring less maintenance, cheaper to operate and longer-lasting. Lighter weight means more passengers can be carried, acceleration is better and journey times can be shorter even with relatively frequent stops. The passenger experience is improved in terms of cleanliness, air quality and noise levels both in stations and on trains (particularly in comparison with diesel/bi-mode units that have under-floor engines). The “sparks effect” means electrification invariably increases demand for travel on the line, promoting good growth.
  • Environment and resources – to improve air quality, reduce noise, combat climate change and reduce wastage of resources, objectives that can only ever be partially achieved with diesel traction. Even with non-renewable electricity generation, electric trains have 20-35% lower carbon emissions than diesel, an advantage that is already being exceeded with the current renewables mix. As electricity generation moves towards zero-carbon, so will electric transport. The move towards zero-emission, zero carbon road transport by mid-century must be matched by a commitment to a zero-carbon, zero-emission railway over a similar or shorter timescale. We want to see greater use of rail, and so rail’s environmental advantage must be maintained.
  • Consideration of alternatives – so-called “bimode” trains carrying both diesel and electric traction equipment are heavier, more complex and materials-hungry, less energy-efficient and more expensive to procure and operate than pure electrics (or, indeed, pure diesels). Reliability is unproven and performance unlikely to match that of pure electrics. Diesel bimodes commit the railway for a generation to polluting technology. Prospects for hydrogen as a fuel on rail may turn out to be limited. On sections of discontinuous electrification where wiring is difficult, the gaps may be bridged by using electric trains with moderate battery or other on-board energy storage.

On a global basis, if we are serious about tackling climate change, as well as improving air quality, use of inherently “dirty” diesels and other fossil-fuel dependent prime movers must end. – JSW


Links: Our Arguments for electrification document.

www.railwayelectrification.org – industry-based campaign mounted by engineers – they gave an excellent factsheet;

www.railengineer.uk/2018/06/04/getting-electrification-right/ on rail industry working to reduce costs;

and our blog for Campaign for Better Transport:  http://bettertransport.org.uk/blog/rail/electric-railway-charter .

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Electric Railway Charter launched

train railway miniature transport

How long before we see the like of this German electric train on our line? We are four campaigning groups spread along the Calder Valley railway: STORM (Support the Oldham-Rochdale-Manchester rail line), HADRAG (Halifax & District Rail Action Group), Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group and Bradford Rail Users’ Group. We launched the Electric Railway Charter in Halifax in May 2018 supported by North West and Yorkshire branches of Railfuture.

We want to engage a broad spectrum of business, environmental, local, civic and political groups in support of railway electrification across the North of England. 

The “Northern Sparks” task force report of March 2015 recommended 12 schemes for an initial 5-year programme. The Calder Valley Line (Leeds to both Manchester and Preston via Bradford and via Brighouse) was given top ranking on operational, economic and environmental considerations. We are frustrated at lack of progress, and even more so since July 2017 when South Wales, Midland Main Line and Windermere electrification schemes were cancelled, and doubt was cast over the TransPennine Route Upgrade.

If your organisation would like to sign up in support of the Electric Railway Charter please use the contact form on this website to get in touch.  But first read on – and see also our guest blog on Campaign for Better Transport’s website.

The Northern Electrification Task Force that reported three years ago was an all-party group of MPs and regional representatives backed by professional support and research from Network Rail, Rail North and the Department for Transport. The final recommendations in Northern Sparks were made to the then Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP. The report identified 32 lines and said ALL needing electrifying. The schemes were given weighted scores on economic benefits (50%), impact on services, costs and environment (20%), and on capacity and quality (rolling stock) (30%). The top 12 were recommended for electrification in an initial 5-year programme and the “full” Calder Valley Line came top with a score of 84 (out of 100).

We believe our campaign could be in step with a fightback from within the rail industry promoting the benefits and working to reduce the capital costs. A group of electrification engineers have launched the Campaign to Electrify Britain’s Railway  and produced and excellent factsheet .  Our own support document Arguments for Electrification can be found here.

With a rolling programme, costs of wiring are expected to come down, something on which the Rail Industry Association is working as discussed in a recent article in Rail Engineer.  Those capital costs should of course be recouped through future operational savings.

We believe that electrification of the Calder Valley Line would follow on naturally from the TransPennine Route Upgrade that is (at the latest announcement) due to start on the Huddersfield line in Spring 2018. We do not yet know how much if any electrification will be included in TRU; options are believed to be in transport secretary Chris Grayling MP’s in-tray.

Learning from recent mistakes – for example on the Great Western scheme – where work started before planning was completed, a rolling programme of wiring could have dedicated teams moving on from project to project, building expertise, and planning and managing each project effectively to minimise disruption. The Charter is not dogmatic about wiring every kilometre of track. Gaps in difficult sections (for example where there are long lengths if tunnel) could be bridged using modern trains with on-board energy storage.

But diesel bimodes, it is absolutely clear, are significantly less energy efficient (and more costly to buy) than either pure electrics or pure diesels. And they threaten to saddle the railway with polluting fossil-fuel technology for another generation. The aim should be a zero-emission, zero-carbon transport system in which rail plays an increasing role. Here’s a summary of the arguments:

The arguments for electrification remain clear and enduring:

  • Economic and business case – compared with diesels, electric trains are cheaper to build, more reliable requiring less maintenance, cheaper to operate and longer-lasting. Lighter weight means more passengers can be carried, acceleration is better and journey times can be shorter even with relatively frequent stops. The passenger experience is improved in terms of cleanliness, air quality and noise levels both in stations and on trains (particularly in comparison with diesel/bi-mode units that have under-floor engines). The “sparks effect” means electrification invariably increases demand for travel on the line, promoting good growth.
  • Environment and resources – to improve air quality, reduce noise, combat climate change and reduce wastage of resources, objectives that can only ever be partially achieved with diesel traction. Even with non-renewable electricity generation, electric trains have 20-30% lower carbon emissions than diesel, an advantage that is already being exceeded with the current renewables mix. As electricity generation moves towards zero-carbon, so will electric transport. The move towards zero-emission, zero carbon road transport by mid-century must be matched by a commitment to a zero-carbon, zero-emission railway over a similar or shorter timescale. We want to see greater use of rail, and so rail’s environmental advantage must be maintained.
  • Consideration of alternatives – bimode trains carrying both diesel and electric traction equipment are heavier, more complex and materials-hungry, less energy-efficient and more expensive to procure and operate than pure electrics. Reliability is unproven and performance unlikely to match that of pure electrics. Diesel bimodes commit the railway for a generation to polluting technology. Prospects for hydrogen as a fuel on rail may turn out to be limited. On sections of discontinuous electrification where wiring is difficult, the gaps may be bridged by using electric trains with moderate battery or other energy-storage. But the use of inherently “dirty” diesels and other fossil-derived sources must end.  

 

 

Electric Charter Launch in Halifax on 24 May 2018

The Electric Railway Charter is to be launched in Halifax at the iconic venue of Calderdale Industrial Museum, Thursday teatime, 24 May. Guest speakers at the launch are expected to include Holly Lynch MP for Halifax, Nina Smith chair of Railfuture Yorkshire branch, Anthony Rae of Calderdale Sustainability Forum, and Stephen Chambers who is transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport.

The organisers want a wide range of environmental, business and political groups to come to the launch and (in due course) add their support to the Charter which is a call to a rolling programme of rail electrification across the No

P1010118
This modern electric train is capable of running on just about zero-carbon energy. How long before we see this on the Calder Valley Line?

rth of England.

 

If you or your group would like an invite to the launch please contact us. (Spaces may be limited!)

 

It is three years since the Northern Electrification Task Force published its report “Northern Sparks”. The NETF recommended a dozen schemes for completion in the first five years, with the Calder Valley Line given top ranking on operational and economic criteria. Now, four campaigning rail user groups along the Calder Valley Line, supported by Railfuture branches in Yorkshire and the North West, have joined together to produce the Electric Railway Charter calling for a revival of the idea of a rolling programme of electrification. And where better to start than with the Northern Sparks top scheme, our own line from Leeds to both Manchester and Preston via both Bradford and Brighouse?

The Charter is based on the idea that electric railways are better for passengers, better for the rail businesses because they are more efficient and cheaper to operate than diesels, and better for the environment. Indeed, the railway must electrify if it is to play its part in combatting climate change at a global level, and improving air quality locally. The Charter does not say that every single kilometre of railway must have wires put up. Its founders are open to the idea of gapped or discontinuous electrification where, for example tunnels and bridges are a major problem. But the Charter says the gaps must be bridged by using sustainable alternatives, trains with on board energy storage. Battery technology is of course moving rapidly forward driven by renewables development and, ironically perhaps, by the development of electric road vehicles. If road transport is to be decarbonised and made pollution free over the next 20 years, so too must rail.

The alternative of diesel-powered bimode trains seems to saddle the railway for another generation with fossil-fuel based traction that can never be truly clean.

The four founding groups of the Electric Charter are STORM (Support the Oldham-Rochdale-Manchester rail line), Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group, HADRAG (The Halifax & District Rail Action Group) and Bradford Rail Users Group. Support from Yorkshire and North West branches of Railfuture, the independent campaign for a better passenger and freight rail network.