If you live in or near the Hope Valley there is a strong possibility that you have used the Hope Valley Railway line.
Carrying passengers between Sheffield and Manchester, the railway travels through one of the most beautiful parts of the Peak District National Park. Yet the Hope Valley railway is one of the worst train services in England with trains running just every two hours for much of the day. The Hope Valley Railway Users Group has been striving for some time to improve this service.
The Department for Transport has just announced its “stakeholder consultation” for the new rail franchise for the line, which starts in February 2016. This invites interested people and organisations to get in touch and tell the DfT what sort of a service they would like to see in the Hope Valley before August 18.
Surveys carried out by HVRUG clearly show that the railway is highly valued by residents and tourists alike, and that passenger numbers have been increasing despite the limited service. Data from the Office of the Rail Regulator (also shows a 60% increase in passenger numbers in the last ten years. Four of the five Hope Valley stations register a passenger ‘footfall’ of over 60,000 per year, which, according to Transport for Greater Manchester in their Rail Policy 2012 – 2025, justifies the provision of two trains an hour. However, the DfT stakeholder consultation document promises nothing in the way of improved services and even hints that they could get worse.
In 2012 its survey of Hope Valley residents, found 60% of respondents would use the rail service more, if there was a better timetable. HVRUG believes that this line has untapped potential to attract significantly more visitors to the Peak District, boosting the local economy whilst helping reduce the level of road traffic and parking problems.
Although HVRUG has several proposal,there is one overriding priority: an hourly train service all day, every day, with all trains stopping at all stations.
You can contact the DfT by e-mail: NorthernTPEconsultation2014@dft.gsi.gov.uk By post: Northern TPE Consultation Co-ordinator, 4/15 Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DRPlease take this opportunity to express your views. More information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-of-northern-and-transpennine-express-rail-franchises and on HVRUG’s website: www.hopevalleyrailway.org.uk