11 October 2020

Dear Sir,

ECML TIMETABLE, 2021 & GRAND CENTRAL SERVICES

The context of this letter is the hit-and-miss character of the Grand Central King’s Cross – Bradford service as it affects Pontefract. You will be aware that some trains run via Pontefract, while others bypass the town by running via Hare Park Junction, but to no set pattern. This inconsistency impacts considerably on the usefulness of this service for Pontefract passengers, because it prevents some of the main travel patterns that this service would be expected to supply. For example, day-return business travel to London on Mondays to Fridays is not possible because of the lack of a suitable return service and weekend travel is not possible because of the lack of a Sunday service.

We have been in touch with the Company on numerous occasions and they are well aware of the problem, citing the difficulty of finding suitable paths on the ECML at Shaftholme Junction and the slowness of progress through the West Riding.

The purpose of this letter is to ask if the re-casting of the ECML timetable for December 2021 will take account of the need for a consistent service via the Pontefract line at a reasonable speed – particularly on the Wakefield – Pontefract – Doncaster section. This is a matter of great importance for the Pontefract district.

We are well aware of the problems posed at Doncaster because of the intersection of various paths that cross there, but couldn’t this congestion be eased somewhat by routing some of the NE/SW trains via the S&K line between York and Sheffield? This former mainline is now under-used but was built originally as a rail bypass precisely to avoid congestion elsewhere on the system.

We quite understand that work on the ECML timetable is probably still ongoing and we do not expect a detailed answer, but can you assure us that the GCR problem we describe is being addressed with a view to finding a satisfactory consistent service pattern via the Pontefract line? This service is very important to the economic wellbeing of the district and we should like to think every effort is being made to make it fit for purpose.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Cookson

President and Rail Group Member

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