The project comes up for debate at Kirklees Council’s Heavy Woollen planning sub-committee next week (March 17) and is recommended for approval.
Network Rail wants to put a footbridge over the Lady Anne Level Crossing, which links Howley Street with Stoney Lane, as part of electrification improvements within the mammoth £1.56bn TransPennine Route Upgrade.
The move is being fought by locals who say pedestrian safety and road safety issues have not been addressed and that wildlife concerns, particularly around bats and birds as well as the removal of numerous trees, have been “dismissed” by Network Rail.
A 177-signature petition has been raised objecting to the scheme.
However, rail bosses say safety is their primary concern.
They also argued that keeping a manned signal box to control the crossing would cost more than £10m, plus £250,000 a year in staffing and delay the TRU scheme by between 12 and 18 months.
The impact of that delay would affect not only Kirklees but also West Yorkshire and the wider northern region.
The estimated £2.7m cost of the crossing is for infrastructure only. Construction, signalling and other project costs will add more to the final bill.
The matter was brought to committee on behalf of local people by Coun Habiban Zaman (Lab, Batley East).
Their concerns included Network Rail’s use of a survey that did not “reflect the wishes” of people who regularly use the crossing.
Coun Zaman said: “Two well-attended public meetings with Network Rail have taken place but with little support in taking views of the residents into consideration.
“Safety issues are being compromised, pedestrians feel vulnerable by use of scooters, motorbikes, bicycles, horses [as well as] fear of walking in close proximity to the railway line [and] potential to attract anti-social behaviour [such as] drugs, gangs, fly-tipping.”
A report to the committee says the installation of overhead line equipment carrying 25,000 volts “would increase the risk at the crossing to an unacceptable level with no means of making the current crossing sufficiently safe".
What’s more, a planned housing development at Primrose Hill would also “unduly increase risk” to public use.
Building the footbridge also involves diverting an existing public right of way (PROW) at the crossing.
It is anticipated that the diverted PROW will run over the footbridge.
The TransPennine Route Upgrade includes remodelling Huddersfield Station and knocking down, replacing or improving eight bridges between Huddersfield and Westtown in Dewsbury, as well as widening and electrifying the line.
Stations in Mirfield and Ravensthorpe will be also remodelled.
Network Rail says it will mean more seats, more trains and faster journeys between Manchester and York via Huddersfield and Leeds.