Proposed plans from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), who work to improve the way people live, work and travel in West Yorkshire, aims to connect more areas of Huddersfield with public transport links as part of their Transport Strategy 2040.
They want to create a travel network across West Yorkshire that will allow people to move seamlessly from bus, to train, to tram or light rail, so that the network “connects businesses to customers and suppliers, that links people to education, training and fulfilling employment opportunities, that supports the building of much needed, affordable new homes and makes possible the regeneration and development of industrial land and that minimises emissions that are harmful to our environment.” (Councillor Keith Wakefield in Transport Strategy 2040 document).
Closer to home, the plans propose improving the connection between Huddersfield and Dewsbury. Potentially this could see a tram, or a light railway, joining the two towns and stopping at Fartown, Brackenhall and Bradley on the way. Walkers and cyclists in the area may well be familiar with the Calder Valley Greenway which in parts follows the route of potential tracks and lines proposed in the Strategy.
Connections further down the line could see people effortlessly commuting to M62 Chain Bar, hopefully reducing congestion and traffic hotspots in the area.
Existing lines and routes are also getting a makeover, with the north Transpennine route between Manchester and Leeds (via sunny Huddersfield of course) receiving a £589m ‘kick start’ in 2020 which was announced by Grant Schapps, Secretary of State for Transport and Northern Powerhouse minister. This represents a fraction of the proposed £2.9bn of improvements as part of a long-awaited scheme, first proposed in 2011 and only confirmed in 2019. The majority of this cash injection is being spent in electrifying the line between Manchester and Leeds, and increasing the number of lines from 2 to 4 at pinch points on the route is also on the cards.
These improvements should mean faster journey times for those using the Transpennine route, and a more environmentally friendly travel option. Trains powered by electricity have much lower carbon emissions than their diesel-powered siblings (20-35% according to the most recent figures I can find – from 2007!). The only way this number can increase is with the reduction in use of fossil fuels to produce electricity.
With Huddersfield being earmarked as an ‘urban growth centre’, and well-placed on road and rail networks, the plans from the WYCA strategy compliment the Kirklees Local Plan which expects to provide for 23000 new jobs and 31200 new homes in the district, with the majority of this expected to be in Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
Faster travel times, a cleaner, greener railway network and improved connections between train, bus and possibly tram can only be a big positive for the people and environment of Huddersfield.