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‘High-speed rail bid could be derailed’
Plans for extra high-speed services from the Aire Valley to London could be derailed unless power problems are sorted out, a rail user group has said.
National Express East Coast wants an extra service every hour from the Aire Valley or Skipton to Bradford’s Forster Square station and on to London.
It would be part of the biggest improvement to the East Coast timetable since the route was electrified in 1991 – with 7,000 extra seats per day on the network, a spokesman said.
It is one of a number of bids by train operators who want to bring increased services to the East Coast mainline.
However, the 125mph trains National Express propose to operate cannot run between Shipley and Skipton, because power lines cannot carry enough electricity for local services and high-speed trains. The Aire Valley Rail Users’ Group has warned that the extra trains to London should not be introduced at the expense of “enormously successful” local trains.
Chairman Tim Calow said: “The Aire Valley line is currently an enormous success. It reliably provides trains for people to travel and it is highly used. We do need extra capacity on the line but there are questions about whether enough power can be provided. We would like to have extra trains to London but not at the expense of the local services.”
Network Rail has commissioned a study of routes and draft proposals about how to provide extra capacity are due in the autumn, Mr Calow said.
Among National Express’s proposals is an extra service every hour direct from London Kings Cross to Bradford Forster Square, created by extending some Leeds services. The company has now submitted an application to the Office of Rail Regulation to run the 25 new services to and from London from December, 2009.
However, they are subject to regulatory approval and face competition from other operators such as Grand Central and Hull Trains for the limited available track capacity from Yorkshire southwards.
East Coast managing director David Franks said: “As an experienced train operator, our proposals offer a great solution for rail passengers, taxpayers and national and regional economies along our route.