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Railwatch 071 - April 1997

Yorkshire

By James Towler

Back on Track Brighouse and Elland should be back on the rail network in 1998. The Government's Capital Challenge programme has pledged £4m to reinstate the Halifax-Huddersfield link. After an 11-year battle, this represents a great victory for the HADRAG, the local rail users' group. The fact that Calder Valley is a marginal constituency may have helped!

Yorkshire Rail Review 1996 Timekeeping - as measured by our spot checks - improved for a second consecutive year. How much of this was due to the restructured railway is open to question. There have also been a number of improvements and innovations, like the increase in GNER services to Bradford and the provision of free coffee or tea on the Midland Main Line. On the debit side the York ABB works closed while, for the third consecutive year, no new stations were opened. Privatisation will not be judged a success until such time as places like Brighouse, Cross Hills, Haxby, Knaresborough East and Strensall are on the rail map.

Connections We've been concerned at the lack of safeguards for connections. In the new world of commercial confidentiality and market forces, train operators and passenger transport executives were not always advised of other operators' changes. We asked the Regulator to investigate. In an encouraging response, John Swift replied that work is proceeding to improve connections, not least in timetable planning.

Under scrutiny Top marks to Kirklees Metropolitan Council which has established a Scrutiny Commission on Rail Services. Run on House of Commons Select Committee lines, its terms of reference include: "To draw on the knowledge of rail user groups and other local witnesses to identify problems currently experienced by rail users, particularly in terms of overcrowding and unreliability of services". Chairman of the Huddersfield-Penistone-Sheffield Rail Users Association, Richard Fieldhouse and I were questioned by Councillor Graham Sykes on issues affecting Kirklees users, ranging from congestion at Leeds West End to closure of the information office at Huddersfield.

Problems of success Twice during the l980s BR tried to close the link between Huddersfield and Sheffield. On both occasions it failed. The HPSRUA was at the forefront of the campaign to save the line and highlight its potential. Since then weekday trains have more than doubled and a Sunday service introduced. Such has been its success that overcrowding has occurred. And while the lure of Meadowhall is a factor, but for the efforts of the user groups and others, what is now a thriving service could have become just another railway memory.

There May Be Trouble Ahead Anyone who thought railway closure proposals were a thing of the past had better think again. The former North Western Rail Users Consultative Committee assistant secretary is now ensconced at the Office of the Rail Regulator in London working on - yes, you've guessed it - closures. So, once the general election is out of the way, be on your guard!

Branch Meetings: 17 May, Church House, Ilkley. 20 September, Methodist Church Hall, Castleford. Both meetings start at 14.00 and are open to both members and guests. Any communications regarding these and other issues should be addressed to Acting Secretary Peter G Davies at 5 Dewhirst Road, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, HD6 5BA.

Bring back the trains A unique platform ticket appeal has been launched by Wensleydale Railway Association which is working to restore a passenger railway from Northallerton to Redmire, and eventually to Hawes and the Settle-Carlisle at Garsdale. For £25, you can buy a platform ticket for Leyburn, Leeming Bar, Bedale - or any other station on the line.

The money raised will be used to upgrade the line and stations. The names of platform ticket holders will be recorded in a Register of Thanks at Leyburn station.

They will also be entitled to one return trip per ticket on a scheduled passenger train of the Wensleydale Railway Company. Information: Platform Tickets, WRA, Freepost, PO Box 12, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3XG.

They will also be entitled to one return trip per ticket on a scheduled passenger train of the Wensleydale Railway Company. Information: Platform Tickets, WRA, Freepost, PO Box 12, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3XG.

DENIS BRADBURY (1913-1996)

"Utterly gracious and always a gentleman"

It is with great sadness that we record the sudden death in December of Denis Bradbury. Secretary of the Yorkshire branch since its inception, his 80th birthday was marked by a special presentation in recognition of his dedicated service and achievements.

Denis was a pioneer of the campaign for railway development. A former treasurer of the RDS, he was active nationally through his work on the freight committee. He was a driving force behind the formation of user groups throughout Yorkshire and participated in their activities in addition to his branch duties.

Deputy chairman Philip Ralph spoke for us when he said: "Denis was such a great person to know. He never lost his enthusiasm".

James Towler

RDS chairman Steve Wilkinson writes: Denis, RDS number 29, was educated at Marlborough and graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in fuel technology and spent most of his working life in the steel industry.

He lived a frugal life and was almost self-sufficient. He had a good reputation locally for jam and marmalade making. His luxuries were his grand holidays to places like the Andes, Russia and New Zealand.

He had completed 50 years service with the St John Ambulance Brigade, was a member of the Prayer Book Society and was closely involved with Dore Church and Sheffield Cathedral.

He was a man of infinite charm and humour and managed to remain cheerful to the end even though he was losing his sight. We are grateful to have shared part of his life.

Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

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