Kirklees needs its very own 21st century rail hub – and it could be built on the outskirts of Huddersfield within less than a decade.
That’s the claim of Mirfield councillor Martyn Bolt, who said the cost of such a project – estimated at anywhere between £12m and £15m – could be met by “re-profiling” existing money already identified within various budgets held by the region’s transport partners.
He rejected suggestions that his proposal for Mirfield was pie-in-the-sky thinking and says it represented a realistic, feasible and commonsense approach to rail connectivity for the borough. He called it “eminently deliverable.”
Clr Bolt was speaking after attending a transport workshop hosted by West Yorkshire Combined Authority local enterprise partnership.
And despite being mocked by another member who referred to his plan as “Mirfield International” he presented his proposal as a potential solution to Kirklees’ fragmented rail links.
“Just because the Victorians designed something doesn’t mean we stick with it. Let’s start looking ahead,” he said.
“We need a new Kirklees rail hub that is fit for purpose like the Wakefield Westgate revamp. There is talk about further expansion in Leeds. Why should Kirklees as a district be left behind?”
Clr Bolt used the opening of new stations at Low Moor, Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge – and a proposed rail halt at Elland – as evidence that there is the will to invest in local infrastructure.
He said a new “superstation” that superseded stations at Mirfield and Ravensthorpe would connect lines out of Huddersfield and Halifax and shatter the notion that Kirklees was “locked in Victoriana.”
He added: “Now is the time to be planning transport for the next generation. It’s about whether people want to do it.
“At the transport workshop they were looking at hubs for HS2. Huddersfield was a focus. They are looking at Huddersfield and Dewsbury because they are the biggest stations in Kirklees.
“We need to look at things anew. There is a lot of potential for new rail services. Kirklees Council needs to be lobbying its partners, our politicians ought to be saying that this borough needs a brand new rail terminus with car parking for now and the future. The Kirklees Cabinet should be looking at how we can boost the area and not be parochial because this plan is in the Mirfield area.
“What’s been lacking is a strategic overview. We should not have to fight for 50 years. This could be achieved within the next five or ten years.
“It’s a question of fitting in with Network Rail and their work programmes. It’s a massive engineering programme. My plan is realistic, feasible and comes down to strategic thinking. If we get people working across political divides and we get the business community on board then anything could happen. The potential is huge.”