RAIL services connecting Huddersfield to the north’s main cities could be going electric.
Train operators want 400 miles of UK railways upgraded to accommodate electric trains, including two routes in the Yorkshire region.
Leeds to Manchester via Huddersfield and Leeds to York are among 10 routes in the UK recommended for electrification by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).
Electrifying up to 400 miles of “missing link” railway lines nationwide would cost around £500m and cause a decade of disruption, ATOC said.
But it would allow 85,000 more passengers (35% more) to travel each day.
Electric trains are generally more reliable and faster than diesel trains making it easier to run more frequent services.
And carbon emissions would also be slashed by 75,000 tonnes (30%) ATOC said.
The plans have been welcomed by the Huddersfield, Penistone and Sheffield Rail Users’ Association.
The Association says the upgrades will bring the region into line with rail services across Western Europe.
Most lines running from North to South, such as the East and West Coast lines, are already electrified.
But no lines running across the width of the country are currently powered that way.
Some five million people would benefit from the more efficient service, the group said.
Diesel trains, still in good condition, would be moved onto minor lines such as the Penistone Line between Huddersfield and Sheffield.
ATOC chief executive Michael Roberts said: “Over the next 30 years, the demand for rail is likely to double and we must continue to improve our existing network if we are to keep up with this growth in passenger numbers, as well as planning for new capacity such as high speed lines.
“Electrifying a series of key routes over a 10-year period and filling in some of the missing links would bring substantial benefits to the economy and the environment.
“Train companies would work hard with Network Rail to make sure that any disruption was kept to an absolute minimum for passengers on these routes.
“A relatively small investment would help cut carbon emissions and deal with the capacity problems facing parts of the rail network.”
Rail users’ association spokesman Peter Marshall added: “It’s excellent news. We feel electric lines between Manchester, Leeds and York will enable a much better service across the Pennines and release the excellent Transpennine diesel trains for use on the lesser lines.
“Ironically it would leave the Penistone Line as one of the few diesel lines in the district. The next stage should be for the Penistone Line to be considered in light of these plans.”