RAIL users have welcomed plans to provide two direct links from Huddersfield to London.
New company Alliance Rail has submitted proposals to operate “open access” services between Huddersfield and King’s Cross via Sheffield and the East Coast main line; and Huddersfield and Euston via Crewe and the West Coast main line.
Alliance Rail said the journey times from Huddersfield to London would be 3hrs on the East Coast route and 2hrs 40mins on the West Coast line.
It would be the first time direct link between Huddersfield and London since the 1950s when the South Yorkshireman took passengers from the town to Marylebone Station.
The Office of Rail Regulation has been urged to approve Alliance Rail’s proposals, although a decision is not expected to 12 to 18 months. If it is given the go-ahead, the services could be operating by December, 2013.
Steven Leigh, head of policy and representation for the Lockwood-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said business travellers would welcome the new services.
“The chamber has been talking about lack of funding for transport in the region for a long time,” he said. “To get to London direct from Huddersfield would be a great thing and is a positive initiative for our region.
“It would also strengthen the case for much-needed investment in the East Coast line, which would trim the journey time down a bit.”
Clr Mehboob Khan, leader of Kirklees Council, said the proposed services would strengthen business links between Huddersfield and the capital as well as encouraging more day trippers and short-break visitors to the town.
“This is an excellent move forward and is very important for the economic prosperity of the town and the wider area.” he said. “An additional rail link should help alleviate overcrowding on existing train services and would emphasise the importance of Huddersfield as a place to do business.”
Clr Khan said the council would be lobbying the ORR to support the proposals as part of its ambitions to create jobs and diversify the local economy.”
Peter Marshall, of the Huddersfield-Penistone-Sheffield Rail Users Association, said: “Two million people use Huddersfield rail station a year. Those travelling to London must first get to Leeds, Wakefield or Sheffield to get a train.”
He said the Huddersfield-Penistone-Sheffield line would need “small changes” to accommodate an express service – including improved signalling and a new loop line between Penistone and Barnsley to allow the inter-city trains to pass slow all-station-stop trains.