Response of Pontefract Civic Society to the final draft of the “Restoring Your Railway Fund” Askern Document
- There can be no doubt that this connection is greatly needed. As things currently stand, Doncaster can only be accessed from the Five Towns District by first travelling to Wakefield or Leeds. Thus, intending travellers, who might reasonably expect to access Doncaster in about 30 minutes by the direct Askern route, find themselves twice as far away from their destination, having travelled in the wrong direction at considerable extra time and expense.
- There is limited connection to Doncaster from Pontefract by the Grand Central service, but this is intermittent and unbalanced and can only be regarded as a through service to London. There is no direct bus service, so there is no effective public transport link to Doncaster. The only other option is the car.
- The Society’s view is that much the best way of achieving the Pontefract – Doncaster connection is to extend the existing Huddersfield – Castleford service. This is intrinsically weak and unsatisfactory in its scope; it connects with nothing at the Castleford end and is a wasted opportunity that could be much better used. This proposal brings with it other benefits also:
- Connectivity to Glasshoughton, where the Junction 32/Xscape complex draws in some 7 million visitors per year is greatly improved.
- The Pontefract – Wakefield service becomes half-hourly.
- Connection to Transpennine Express and the Huddersfield district is widened.
- The Askern Station scheme could be implemented much more quickly.
Our response to the document is summarised below:
|Project/service||Capital Cost||Timescale||Comments||PCS +/-|
|Huddersfield – Castleford – Pontefract – Doncaster||Low/Nil||Short||Gives Pontefract a connection with East Coast MainlineExtension of a service already runningExcludes KnottingleyProblem of path into Doncaster||+++|
|Huddersfield – Castleford – Pontefract – Askern – Doncaster||Medium||Medium||Capital cost of Askern Station would lengthen the implementation timeProblem of path into Doncaster||+|
|Huddersfield – Castleford – Pontefract – Knottingley – Askern – Doncaster||Medium/High||Medium/Long||Cost and timescale a worryProblem of path into Doncaster||+/-|
|Knottingley – Askern – Doncaster||Medium||Medium||Doesn’t include Pontefract Capital cost of Askern Station would lengthen the implementation timeProblem of path into Doncaster||_ _ _|
|All of the above projects with the addition of the Shaftholme remodelling||Very High||Very Long||Capital cost and timescale prohibitive||_ _ _|
- If the Pontefract- Doncaster connection is made dependent on expensive infrastructure improvements at Knottingley, Shaftholme Jn., Barnby Dun, Doncaster Station etc., it will certainly take many years to implement.
- Whilst we entirely appreciate the challenges presented by the current infrastructure, the service enhancement we propose could be implemented very quickly, so long as one return train path per hour can be found into and accommodated in Doncaster with the infrastructure as it currently is. An extra unit would also need to be funded to maintain an hourly Huddersfield – Doncaster service.
- In the short term Knottingley would not benefit from this service; but it would not lose, as would be the case if a Leeds – Knottingley service were to be extended.
- We strongly urge that every effort is made to implement this proposal that we regard as the simplest, best and cheapest option at the present time.