Let’s pretend the Calder Valley had a tram system

The Pierce Hall, Halifax. Imagine this with a tram. Image: Getty.

Another contribution to our occasional thread of speculative, and hilariously overy-ambitious, transport proposals from readers…

Dear Jonn,

I recently saw the piece about a fantasy tram system for Truro and, having been really interested in it, I wanted to get in touch and share my creation for Halifax and the Calder Valley. We’re getting all kinds of investment in the transport systems in this area lately, so I thought: why not take it up a level and have a tram line running through it all?

I’d have the line start in Brighouse in the Lower Valley, at the town’s railway station. The station is a little out of the way, so this would be a fast and easy way to get from here to the town centre. Once through Brighouse, it would begin to wind up the A644, which is usually heavily congested at peak times. At Hipperholme crossroads, it would then continue towards Halifax town centre on the A58, stopping at Shibden Park.

Once it has come down New Bank and entered Halifax town centre by travelling over North Bridge, it would then have an important stop just outside the main bus station. Once it has stopped here, I would split it into two one-way systems, much like a part of Nottingham’s NET system. Trams from Brighouse would skirt the southern edge of the town, stopping at the town’s main attraction of the Piece Hall, and the railway station; while trams to Brighouse would run through the middle of the town, stopping outside the Borough Market.

Continuing westwards, both tracks would come back together at the Shay Stadium, before carrying on up to Savile Park, where I’d locate another park and ride. From here, it would follow the A646 Burnley Road, through Friendly, across the top of Sowerby Bridge, and into Luddenden Foot and Mytholmroyd. I would put a third park and ride in Brearley, just before Mytholmroyd town centre. Finally, it would finish up in Hebden Bridge in the heart of the Upper Valley, at the railway station there. Here’s a map.

Click to expand.

I hope this would clear up a good deal of the congestion there is around the area, while also getting people from one side of the Calder Valley to the other and linking up the railway stations to their respective town centres. Of course, it’s all fanciful. But it would be good, wouldn’t it?

Thanks for reading this.

Matthew Whiley (@MatthewWhiley)

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Does it matter that TfL are renaming White Hart Lane station Tottenham Hotspur?

New White Hart Lane. Image: Getty.

Pretend for a moment that you’re travelling in the London of 1932. You’re taking the Piccadilly Line northbound and alight at Gillespie Road station. The name should be obvious: it’s inscribed in bespoke brown tiling on the platform.

But that 31 October, following an intense campaign by the eponymous football club, the London County Council changed the station’s name to Arsenal (Highbury Hill). The area’s growing association with the name “Arsenal” ended in a lengthy negotiation that changed maps, signs and train tickets alike. Football had acquired so much power that it changed the name of not just a Tube station but an entire suburb, even before the era of Wenger or the Emirates.

Now the spectre of name changes is on the horizon once again. As Tottenham Hotspur FC inches closer to completing its new stadium, the club is clamouring for a renamed Overground station. Despite the fact the new stadium is located on almost exactly the same site as the old just off White Hart Lane, and fans have long been calling the scaffolding-laden mess “New White Hart Lane”, the club’s executive director is adamant that the station’s existing name cannot stand. White Hart Lane station, on the Overground line leaving Liverpool Street, is set to be renamed “Tottenham Hotspur”, at a cost to the club of £14.7m.

Little has been made of the fact that this peculiar PR kerfuffle is tied to Spurs’ failure to convince Nike to sponsor the venue. Some sources have even claimed that the sponsorship is yet to be finalised because it is somehow contingent on the renaming of the Overground station; beyond the ridiculous Johnson-era vanity project that was the Emirates Air Line, it seems improbable that TfL will allow any more corporate-flavoured information pollution. There will be no “Nike Stadium” station on the way to Enfield, much as there is no “Emirates” on the way to Cockfosters, especially if public consultation gets a look in.

The scene of the crime. Image: TfL.

But there’s a problem with the new name, all the same. “White Hart Lane” already means “football stadium”, in the same way Loftus Road or Stamford Bridge do. Changing it to “Tottenham Hotspur” risks opening the floodgates to an “O2 North Greenwich” or a “Virgin Euston” at some point in future, names as banal as there are dystopian. The Greater London Authority has promised to spend the £14.7m fee on community programmes in the local area – but that’s not much money to set the precedent that a private company can mess about with the Tube map.

What’s more, as CityMetric has often observed, there are plenty of station names across London that could do with a tidy up. Picking one that’s perfect already and asking for £14.7m to change it is adding insult to injury. How much would it cost a community group if they asked to change the name of Goodge Street to Fitzrovia? Why does a vast corporate entity backed by international sponsors and thousands of season ticket holders get to set the standard?

Back in Arsenal’s day, changing names on the Tube must have been easy; changes could be accommodated gradually without bothering the every day traveller. But in our world of online information, maps and apps, name changes are rather more complicated.

The question is – if TfL can bring itself to balefully accept this particular proposition, why can’t it accept ours? Why sort out a single non-issue on the Tube Map when you can catch lots of real ones in one go? A day’s pandemonium might just be a price worth paying to fix the Bethnal Greens problem once and for all.