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Overcrowding: Calderdale Line

Volume 617: debated on Thursday 17 November 2016

10. What estimate he has made of the level of overcrowding on the Caldervale line between Leeds and Manchester. (907302)

I am very aware that that is a busy line, which is why we are seeking to ensure that the new northern franchise tackles overcrowding with investment in new rolling stock that will increase capacity by 37% on peak services into our northern cities. There will be the improvements on the line that the hon. Lady seeks.

I am grateful to the Minister for that response but, further to the comments made by other hon. Members from the region, HADRAG—the Halifax District Rail Action Group—tells me that two morning trains from Halifax to Leeds have been cut from four carriages to two, leading to quite serious overcrowding. Services connecting our major northern towns and cities are essential to delivering the northern powerhouse, so will the Minister tell me what he is doing to avoid the crush that we are seeing on those commuter services?

I recognise that we have a number of issues with trains arriving in Manchester and Leeds with passengers standing because of issues with capacity. That needs to change, which is why in the new northern franchise we have ensured that the pacers will be removed, and we are investing in new carriages that will mean more seats for passengers. We are also investing specifically in the Caldervale line. We have just completed work on the west section, and we will start on the east section in the new year. I hope that the hon. Lady will start to see improvements on that particular network soon, not least because that will help to improve connectivity to Bradford as well, which will bring joy, I am sure, to my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies).