Monthly Archives: May 2014

Connecting Communities – Five Years On – Introduction

On 15th June 2009, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) published the Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network report. It identified potential opportunities to expand the rail network in England through the restoration of railway lines and stations.

The report identified 14 schemes across England where lines and stations would need to be restored. A fifteenth project connecting Portishead was identified as a further scheme for consideration because of specific factors that were expected to increase the BCR above the threshold. A further seven railway stations that could be opened on existing railway lines as Park and Ride stations were also highlighted as commercially viable. Finally, sixteen link lines were also identified as potential options to develop the railway network and provide new journey opportunities. The report focused on low cost schemes where projects could be delivered within the next six years and encouraged relevant authorities to take them forward.

The report focused on England because rail development was looked after by Transport Scotland and the Welsh Assembly in Scotland and Wales respectively.

This blog will focus on the Connecting Communities report during June where it will look into the projects that the report promoted and how they have progressed. Some of the proposals are now under construction and others are serious contenders for reopening over the next few years.

Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge Funding agreed

The Department for Transport has signed off £9.5 million of government funding to deliver two  railway stations at Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge on the  railway line between Leeds and Shipley. The two railway stations are being delivered as part of the £15.9 million Leeds Rail Growth scheme. Apperley Bridge will provide a Park and Ride for Leeds and Bradford, whilst Kirkstall Forge will provide access to the Kirkstall Forge Development Site. The announcement grants full approval to the scheme which is promoted by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, allowing work to begin. Works will commence in July, with completion expected by August 2015.

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Ulster Rail Expansion Plans proposed in NI Rail Investment Vision

Additional connections to the rail network have been proposed by the Rail Investment Prioritisation Strategy published by Danny Kennedy. The report advises that further work should be undertaken to look into providing rail extensions west along the road network
on the A6 in the vicinity of the Castledawson roundabout and either the M1/A4 or A3/A29 corridors in the vicinity of Dungannon and Armagh. In addition, NIR recognised some of the benefits that restoring the railway line between Antrim and Blockmore. Not only would it assist with relieving capacity on the single track section between Antrim and Bleach Green, it would restore stations at Crumlin, Glenavy and Ballinderry. In addition, this restoration could assist with providing a rail link to Belfast International Airport, although passengers numbers would need to reach 10 million per annum in order for any investment to be economically viable.

The Railway Investment Prioritisation Strategy published by the Minister today signals the potential for the first major extensions to the railway network in Northern Ireland since the closing of lines in the sixties.

The Minister’s announcement follows a public consultation inviting views on the future priorities for investment in the railways network. This attracted a wide variety of informed responses which the Minister developed into the Strategy which sets out his strategic direction and priority areas for future railways investment.

Minister Kennedy said: “This ambitious Strategy allows for a significant enhancement of existing rail capacity, preparation for the future electrification of the network and the first major extensions to the railway since the closing of lines following the Benson Report in 1963.

“I am particularly keen to extend the option of rail travel to commuters from mid-Ulster and to the populations in the south and west within the catchments of Armagh and Dungannon. Although the speed of progress will depend on the amount of funding that can be made available from the Executive’s budget and, where possible, from the European Programmes, I am committed to exploring all funding opportunities and making this happen. ”

In looking at possible network extensions the Minister said: “Projects that will be considered include the enhancement of the Northern Line between Bleach Green and Antrim. Other feasibility studies into longer term will propose extensions along the A6 corridor between Antrim and Castledawson; along the M1/A4 and the A3/A29 corridors towards Dungannon/Armagh; and a route to serve Belfast International Airport.

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Click here for a copy of the report

James Cook University Hospital Station missed off rail systems

The newly opened railway station at James Cook University Hospital has been missed off booking and train planning systems, causing problems for potential passengers who were looking to find out more about how they could use the new station.

Northern Rail apologised for the issues and advised that the systems would be updated by the middle of the week.

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Worcestershire Parkway getting closer

Worcestershire Parkway is closer than ever according to local transport officials. The station, which is expected to cost £17.1m  is currently awaiting a decision with regards to a funding bid from the Local Enterprise Partnership to the government.

The station would give Worcestershire access to the Crosscountry railway network, which currently passes through the county without stopping due to the lack of suitable places to stop.

The station was one of the proposals that was not successful when it sough funding from the New Stations Fund.

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