THE FUTURE of the region’s railway system was unveiled at Bradford Interchange when a “state-of-the-art” train rolled onto the tracks.
It’s part of Northern Railway’s modernisation plan which will see its old pacer trains mostly replaced with a brand new fleet by the end of 2019.
Stephen Hopkinson, the regional director for the East covering Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, said a total of 101 new trains with Wi-Fi, plug sockets and more capacity will be introduced, starting from next week.
The trains will run through Leeds and Chester via Bradford, the Calder Valley and Manchester Victoria.
There will also be a line running between Leeds and Blackpool this December.
But, for the purpose of keeping lines across Bradford district and Calder Valley running under all circumstances, some pacer trains will be used for back-up services.
Mr Hopkinson said: “They are state-of-the-art.
“They can go up to 100mph. There’s more seating capacity, there’s more capacity on board.
“We know that the economy’s growing in Bradford. It’s the biggest, growing city in the UK.
“If everything we say we’re trying to do is to stimulate economic growth in places such as Bradford and Calderdale, we need a product that people want to use so people can travel to their places of work in an efficient way.
“The pacers have been our staple.
“Bradford is far from the last (to lose pacers). Their life expired and it’s time for them to go.
“Bradford has been at the forefront. It’s needed,” he said.
But questions still remain about the transport secretary’s notion that Northern could be stripped of its rail franchise by Government.
Grant Shapps told MPs he has issued a “request for proposals” from the firm and the Operator of Last Resort (OLR), which could lead to services being brought into direct government control and run by the OLR.
When asked for clarification on the matter, Mr Hopkinson said conversations are ongoing but both Arriva and Northern will continue with its modernisation programme.
Mr Hopkinson said: “The important point is nothing will change for customers and our colleagues.”
Among other officials at the event, councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, came along this morning.
Councillor Kim Groves revealed the engine’s name as ‘Calder Champion’ in a traditional train naming ceremony with spoken poetry from two local writers.
David Brown, the managing director of Northern, said: “You’ll see just how fantastic they are. These are a step change in the customer offer.
“They are linking places that have probably never had a good direct service.
“In a year’s time the stock we have available will be completely transformed.
“As you know we’ve had a number of external events that have caused us a number of difficulties, many things out of our control.
“We do think we are absolutely honoured to be given the privilege of changing services across the North of England.”