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The Huddersfield line is one of the busiest rail lines on the West Yorkshire MetroTrain network in Northern England. Services are operated by TransPennine Express (local and longer distance) and Northern (Local). The line connects Leeds and Huddersfield with Manchester (Victoria and Piccadilly), Manchester Airport and Liverpool.
North West England
Yorkshire and the Humber
|Line length||49 miles (79 km)|
|Track gauge||Standard gauge 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The route travels south-south west from Leeds through Dewsbury. After a short westward stretch through Mirfield (where it runs on the ex-L&YR section), it continues south west through Huddersfield, using the River Colne valley to its headwaters. The long Standedge Tunnel just after Marsden crosses under the watershed and the majority of the run down to Manchester is in the Tame valley. After Manchester, the line reaches the Liverpool and Manchester Railway line over Chat Moss to Liverpool.
The Government announced in November 2011 that this route would be electrified, and electrification is currently scheduled to be completed by 2022, though not all the route will now be electrified.
At the time of the 1923 Grouping most of the route followed by the line was over London and North Western Railway (LNWR) metals, the exception being a short stretch around Mirfield which was the property of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR). The first section of the line, between Huddersfield and Stalybridge, was opened by the Manchester, Stockport and Leeds Railway on 1 August 1849. The line became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway after 1923.
The route was furnished with an additional two tracks in 1894, thus giving four tracks between Stalybridge and Leeds. The loss of traffic through the second half of the 20th century saw these cut back to just two lines and the closure of the Micklehurst (Friezland) loop.
The length of the line between Manchester Victoria and Holbeck Junction at Leeds is 49 miles (79 km), though the Transpennine upgrade work covers the additional section to York which accounts for 76 miles (122 km).
From spring 2019, the whole route is being upgraded over the course of five years. Network rail state that this will include doubling the track in some places and upgrading stations as well as some of the intended Transpennine electrification programme. The electrification has been curtailed in parts and as such, the sections between Stalybridge and Huddersfield, and a further section of 12 miles (19 km) east of Leeds will not be electrified. Emphasis has been placed on the bi-modal power of the new trains using the line; this will necessitate using diesel engines on the hillier sections of track.
In August 2019, Network Rail announced a proposal to upgrade the track between Huddersfield and Dewsbury from two tracks to four. At the same time, they also stated their intent to electrify the line between Huddersfield and Leeds. The plans were being put out for public consultation.
Metro (West Yorkshire) pre-paid tickets and concessionary fares are available between Leeds and Marsden. Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) fares are available for the Greenfield-Manchester section. Several of the intermediate stations listed were closed in the 1960s (as a result of the Beeching Axe, including many of those between Huddersfield & Manchester). All stations that are still open are in bold:
- Copley Hill Goods
- Farnley and Wortley
- Cottingley (Leeds)
- Staincliffe & Batley Carr
- Dewsbury: previously Dewsbury (Wellington Road)
- Ravensthorpe was named Ravensthorpe and Thornhill
- Mirfield L&YR junctions here to Low Moor and Halifax (the Caldervale Line): the service from the Huddersfield Line operates to Brighouse
- Heaton Lodge/Heckmondwike Junctions return the route to the ex-LNWR line
- Huddersfield: served by the Caldervale and Penistone lines. The railway station here was LNWR/L&YR joint owned.
- here is Springwood Tunnel and Springwood Junction for the trains on the Penistone line
- Longwood and Milnsbridge
- Standedge Tunnel: three parallel tunnels, two single-line, one double, 5,340 yards (4,880 m) in length
- Diggle Junction with line to Stalybridge via Friezland
- Manchester Victoria
TransPennine Express (TPE) operate the majority of the passenger services over the line as it is the core line linking the North West with Yorkshire and the North East. Since privatisation in the 1990s, local services on the route have been operated by the Northern franchise (Arriva Trains Northern, Northern Rail and from 2016, Northern). The first incarnation, Arriva Trains Northern, also operated the express services between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York, Middlesbrough and Newcastle before the Strategic Rail Authority spun the express train services off into a separate franchise, which is now run by TransPennine Express.
At the May 2018 timetable change, the Northern services calling at the smaller stations on the section between Greater Manchester and Huddersfield, were transferred to TPE and combined into an hourly Manchester Piccadilly to Leeds service. This also saw many of the TPE services diverted away from the Guide Bridge to Manchester Piccadilly corridor, so that through trains could use the newly opened Ordsall Chord. However, Northern still operate local services from Huddersfield to Sheffield, Leeds (via Bradford Interchange) and Wakefield. Due to the change of line on the through Manchester services, the Liverpool trains no longer run on the line through Warrington Central, but instead travel via Newton-le-Willows.
- Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle (via Manchester Victoria)
- Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough (via Manchester Victoria)
- Manchester Airport to Newcastle (via Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria)
- Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough (via Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria)
- Manchester Piccadilly to Hull
- Manchester Piccadilly to Leeds
Owing to a large number of easily accessed and nationally acclaimed pubs along the route (including pubs on the station platforms at Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Stalybridge), an "ale trail" along the route has become popular. Of particular interest are:
- West Riding Licensed Refreshment Rooms (on the platform at Dewsbury Station, 2006 runner up CAMRA National Pub of the Year)
- The Kings Head, formerly known as The Station Tavern, in the east wing of Huddersfield station
- The Head of Steam in the west wing of Huddersfield Station
- The Commercial, The Shoulder of Mutton and The Swan in Slaithwaite
- Riverhead, Marsden (with the Riverhead Brewery in the basement, in the town a little down from the station and tunnels)
- Station Buffet at Stalybridge (original Victorian Station Buffet with marble counter, on the platform at Stalybridge station)
The Trail featured on the BBC Oz and James Drink to Britain programme and consequently became very popular for drinkers in Manchester and Leeds. This has prompted some concerns over anti-social behaviour in the villages along the Trail.
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- Gildea, Samantha (17 June 2016). "Real Ale Trail: Everything you need to know about the legendary pub crawl". Huddersfield Examiner. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "Ale trail 'hijacked' by stag parties". BBC News. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
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