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Committee discusses "hugely disruptive" rail line closure

Friday, 24 May 2024 22:26

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

A landslip at Baildon has closed the Ilkley to Bradford rail line since February.

The rail line between Ilkley and Bradford is still suffering from the double whammy of a landslip closing the line - and the unwillingness of train companies to increase services on it once it is reopened.

A landslip near Baildon in February has massively disrupted rail travel on the route, with the line unlikely to open until late June.

Replacement buses have been in operation since the closure.

The route was one that had already suffered from cuts – with Northern Rail having reduced the number of trains running between Bradford and Ilkley in May 2023.

Despite the reduction in services being described as “temporary,” members of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee have been told that there is no plan to return services to their previous levels once the line reopens.

The committee was discussing a number of rail issues in West Yorkshire during a meeting on Friday when the landslip came up.

Crews are currently working to remove a huge amount of debris from the side of the line.

Chair of the Committee, Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “It has been very disruptive for our residents over the last few months.

“It has taken an awful long time to sort out and it affects people’s lives.

“For me, it has opened up a new vista in terms of the climate emergency and the fact that land is getting more and more waterlogged because of all the rain we are having.

“This is an increasing problem across the North and perhaps across the country.

“It’s a major issue that we need to be on top of.”

The committee also heard that, aside form the landslip issue, the Authority was pushing for the number of services between Bradford and Ilkley to be restored.

In May 2023 the number of off-peak services between the two stations was cut from one every half hour to one an hour.

A report to members said: “Unfortunately in March, the Rail North Partnership indicated that, despite support from Transport for the North and despite the evidence and representations provided by the Combined Authority and Bradford Council, they would not support the reinstatement of services between Bradford and Ilkley / Skipton at two trains per hour all day, despite the reduction to hourly having been presented as temporary.

“The Combined Authority has protested against this decision and have asked for services to be reinstated from December 2024.”

At the meeting Cllr Hinchcliffe added: “Reducing services like the ones between Ilkley and Bradford can be hugely damaging for the economy. We need to see these restored.”

Councillor Andrew Loy (Cons, Ilkley) asked if there had been any further update since the date of late June was given for the reopening of the line.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said she had attended a recent meeting with representatives of Northern Rail and Network Rail, and they were still aiming for late June.

She added: “We’re pushing rail companies to introduce more services between Bradford and Ilkley, but that is hard when the line has been shut for months.”

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  • Skipton

    Light rain

    High: 16°C | Low: 7°C

  • Ilkley

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