Save The Woodhead Tunnel

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National RUS Consultation Manager
Network Rail
Kings Place
90 York Way
N1 9AG

14th December 2008

Dear Sir/Madam

Yorkshire & Humber Draft RUS: Consultation Response

I am responding to the above document on behalf of the Save the Woodhead Tunnel group which was
established to secure Woodhead’s 1954 tunnel for use by trains rather than electricity cables. Our
longer term goal is to see the route reopened as a fourth line across the Pennines, offering an
opportunity to drive a significant modal shift from road to rail, particularly for freight. This will be vital if
we are to support sustainable economic growth whilst fulfilling our environmental obligations.

On reading the draft RUS, our group’s overwhelming sense was one of disappointment; not simply
because Section 6.7 of the draft focuses mainly on the problems which a reopened Woodhead route
might create, but because it lacks the vision to see how the line could fit into a broader transport plan
for the North.

It is symptomatic of the UK’s disjointed approach to strategic transport planning that, on page 62, it is
stated that “The main benefits of this route would arise from dealing with congestion on the cross-
Pennine road network rather than solving rail network issues” - the implication being that, somehow,
this would be a bad thing. The government’s aspiration is to see a doubling of both passenger and
freight rail traffic over the next 30 years - this must involve rail shouldering some of the burden which is
currently placed on our motorways.

The railway has to become more ambitious, seeking to encourage and accommodate new flows rather
than suppressing them. We accept that such an approach is untenable without the government
demonstrating its support for the railway through additional investment rather than a surfeit of words.
Our campaign will be making this point to the DfT.
Network Rail has recognised that trans-Pennine passenger growth consistently exceeds the national
average, meaning that the Diggle route could well reach capacity before the end of Control Period 5
(2019). Thereafter, The Northern Way forecasts that trans-Pennine container flows could increase
from 17 trains per day in 2020 (using the Business Case Comparator forecast which closely reflects
the input assumptions to the Freight RUS) to 58 trains per day in 2030, if unrestrained by capacity and
structure gauge.

It is therefore reasonable to assert that, without action to greatly increase rail capacity, potentially
significant extra freight traffic will be driven onto the roads. This would have a detrimental impact, both
economically and environmentally.

We accept that any proposal to reopen Woodhead would have to look further west than Hadfield and
further east than Penistone. Investment would be required beyond the immediate corridor and our
group is developing proposals to address the ‘significant practical limitations’ identified in the draft

Whilst the Micklehurst Loop has certain advantages, the loss of its tunnels and viaducts, residential
development on the alignment, the required refurbishment of Standedge’s single bores as well as the
possible impact on linespeed of a realignment for four-tracking eastwards towards Huddersfield
ensure that this option also has its shortcomings. The works necessary to improve line capacity and
structural clearance for 9'6" containers could only be accomplished with severe impact on the existing
intensive TransPennine Express service.

There are no easy solutions here. We recognise that Network Rail has to live within its means and that
the RUS exists to resolve existing capacity constraints, not create new ones. Our group is however
convinced that the priority must be to identify a robust trans-Pennine freight corridor rather than the
vague possibility of enhancements to the Diggle route where TPE conflicts will continue to cause
headaches. Woodhead - and the disused routes either side of it - offers the greatest potential,
including the electrification option.

We would encourage Network Rail to contribute to a broader assessment of our longer-term transport
needs before the National Grid’s abandonment of Woodhead’s Victorian tunnels, the loss of which
could lock the door on the route’s reopening.

Yours sincerely

Peter Swinnerton
Secretary, Save the Woodhead Tunnel

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