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Commuter service plan hits buffers
Visitors from across the UK were expected to flock to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway this weekend for a feast of heritage diesel traction.
The railway’s three-day diesel gala comes at a time when transport chiefs are considering reopening the preserved line to regular commuter trains for the first time since it ceased to be part of the national rail network in 1962.
The diesel gala, featuring locomotives dating back to the 1950s, got underway yesterday and was set to continue today and tomorrow.
Tim Moody, organiser of the event, said: “There are no steam engines running this weekend – it’s the only weekend of the year when diesels reign supreme.”
Star attractions include a class 55 Deltic locomotive – the first of its type to visit the railway for 21 years – and a class 37 locomotive from Scotland.
Earlier this week, members of Metro’s Rail Working Group were presented with a report updating them on progress of a feasibility study into the operation of rail commuter services between Keighley and Oxenhope.
The study, carried out by independent consultants, was set up after the Worth Valley Joint Transport Committee (WVJTC) approached Metro about the possibility of reopening the line to commuter traffic.
The first stage of the study has been completed, but Metro does not consider that it demonstrates a definitive way of operating the railway as a commuter service.
A report by a Metro officer said: “There would be a substantial funding gap between the likely operating costs and the revenue from such a service.
“In addition, there would be significant costs associated with employing staff and any assumption that Northern would be able to provide some rolling stock to operate the service was unrealistic in the short to medium term, as there would be no spare rolling stock available.”
Further work is to be carried out to refine some of the financial and operational issues identified in the study.
Mr Moody said: “Reopening the line to commuter trains would be a superb idea.
“There’s a lot of development of housing in the area and the Keighley congestion is getting worse, so it would be sensible to provide a local train to connect with trains to Leeds or Bradford. We will see how the investigations go.”
Mr Moody said the first stage of the feasibility study had by no means killed off the idea, but added: “I don’t think the operational side is a problem, it’s about who has got the cash to pay for it.”