[From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 23 November 2017]
Around 100 people from the Colne Valley turned out for a public meeting over fears peak-time rail services for Slaithwaite and Marsden residents will be slashed next year.
Before the meeting at Slaithwaite Civic Hall on Wednesday, Gary Godolphin, secretary of, Slaithwaite and Marsden Action on Rail Transport (SMART), said the changes likely to happen from May 2018 included:
* A reduction in morning and evening peak time services towards Manchester – a major worry for daily commuters;
* ‘Skip stopping’ resulting in making travel between local stations (such as between Marsden and Slaithwaite) more difficult;
* Services terminating at Piccadilly rather than Victoria in Manchester making journeys to Spinningfields and Salford Quays longer;
* Busier services longer distances, potentially resulting in overcrowding.
The meeting was attended by senior members of train operators TransPennine Express, Northern Rail, Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the rail network in England and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority which provides guidance to operators about what it thinks should happen to rail services.
Afterwards, Mr Godolphin said:
“At the moment at peak times in the morning and evening we have half hourly services in both directions between Huddersfield and Manchester.
“But under the new proposals, certainly regarding Manchester, that will be reduced to a peak time hourly service both morning and evening.
“This is a serious concern for commuters some of whom fear about being able to get to their jobs on time. There are also worries about already overcrowded trains becoming even more so.”
Colne Valley Tory councillor Donna Bellamy said:
“The meeting was very well attended with many users from Slaithwaite, Marsden as well as Mossley and Saddleworth turning up.
“A lot of the issues around the timetable changes are that you would no longer be able to commute by train from Marsden to Slaithwaite or vice versa without firstly going into Huddersfield and then getting the next train out to the destination.
“This I do see as an issue and could indeed cause some social isolation, in teenagers and the elderly, many of whom use the trains in an evening and on a weekend to visit friends in the neighbouring villages, as the cost of this service is less expensive and is generally more reliable than buses, especially in the winter.
“This was discussed with TransPennine Express who did say that this would be the case and they would need to look at ticketing as not to cause a penalty charge.”