When Peter Cookson became aware of the potential for a West Riding service from Bradford to London, he worked hard from 2008 including giving the Grand Central Chief Operating Officer a tour of the Pontefract, and his efforts paid off with the start of the service calling at Pontefract Monkhill in May 2010. We know it’s not perfect when some return services avoid Monkhill, and weekend services are required, though that hasn’t stopped us campaigning for improvements.

In 2010, the civic society also commissioned architects plans for a Monkhill station building to overcome accessibility issues, which sadly still remain, and we also sought a much larger car park and a through bus route. None of this has been delivered by partners and the authorities other than a partial car park improvement, yet we continue to remind the decision-makers that the local population is growing, some of whom tell the civic society that they need better stations and services. One success we have had is the half-hourly service to and from Leeds, which now exists with alternate routes via Castleford, and via Wakefield. We have also pushed for the extension of part underused service from Huddersfield to Wakefield; this has now been extended to Castleford, which is a partial success, though we believe a bad decision when even greater patronage could be achieved along the line at Glasshoughton, Monkhill, Knottingley, and even Doncaster! This could achieve connectivity to the south of the Humber, east coast and Lincoln. So, our work at Monkhill is not done, considerable challenges remain to get what a principle town deserves, and we hope you will get involved help.

A minor project to connect the east-west cycle routes will see a ramp delivered in the near future from Black Walk to Monkhill station. Platform extensions at Tanshelf and Monkhill are underway to accommodate longer rolling stock, which we hope to eventually see on Northern Rail services.

Last year’s timetable fiasco left Pontefract Baghill with a dreadful, almost unusable service of two trains per day, though we are pleased to announce that three trains per day for Baghill-York & Sheffield will return in May 2019. A more holistic approach would have better Baghill services offering connectivity to Scarborough, without the high investment at Castleford, and perhaps similar options from Sheffield to the Peak District and Manchester.

May 19th, 2019
Trains to York09.3612.3715.37Sundays17.0119.37
Trains from York10.1513.1317.15Sundays18.0220.40
Trains to Sheffield10.4913.4717.49Sundays18.3421.24
Trains from Sheffield08.5611.5914.57Sundays16.1319.00

There are still no trains running during the day on a Sunday.

Finally, a recent opportunity was presented to us by Richard Isaac, the Regional Community and Sustainability Manager (Northern Rail) on a very supportive two-hour site tour of all three Pontefract stations. We discussed various ideas suitable for our situation, including engaging the local community in providing service feedback, reporting station incidents, creating heritage artwork, litter picks, planting; all leading to increased patronage. Local schools could also be engaged which would see benefits for local schools, to encourage young people to take an interest in rail travel and our stations. We had already planned to install a heritage board at each station, and Richard has offered us a covered notice board on each station. The Board of Trustees for Pontefract Civic Society has therefore approved a proposal submitted by Dave Hogg, our Rail Coordinator, for the creation of a Station Adoption scheme to cover all

three stations. We see this partnership being a great benefit to rail users, and we hope that readers will get on board with this exciting initiative in order to rejuvenate our station facilities.

If you wish to get involved please email rail@pontefractcivicsociety.org.uk or call Dave on 07910 564141.

Grand Central train at Monkhill station, Pontefract.

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