East Riding of Yorkshire
Yorkshire and the Humber
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Pontefract line is one of the rail services in the West Yorkshire Metro area of northern England. The service is operated by Northern, and links Wakefield and Leeds with Goole via Pontefract. The Metro timetable for the line also includes services operated as the Dearne Valley line between York and Sheffield via Pontefract.
The line, which passes through the former mining areas to the east of Wakefield and Castleford, has the greatest number of stations opened by the West Yorkshire Metro. MetroCards are available on the route as far as Knottingley: a limited service of trains continues to Goole by this route.
Railways in the area opened as follows:
- 1 April 1848: the Wakefield, Pontefract and Goole Railway, 27 miles (43 km) in length, opened. This line passed through and served Knottingley, which was then producing some 65 000 tons of burnt lime a year, mainly used for agricultural and building purposes.
- February 1854 the Great Northern Railway (GNR) and Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) jointly administered Knottingley station.
- August 1850: Knottingley to Burton Salmon line opened. Trains were able to run from London to York via Knottingley, which was the station to change to and from trains into the heart of the West Riding, and so it became a major junction.
- May 1879: The Swinton and Knottingley Railway, connecting Sheffield and York via Pontefract, opened; Ferrybridge station opened three years later.
Before the 1923 Grouping the lines over which the service operates were owned by:
- Leeds – Methley: Midland Railway (MidR)
- Methley – Pontefract (Monkhill) – Goole: L&YR
- Wakefield Westgate station was joint GNR)/L&YR
- Wakefield – Pontefract (Monkhill): L&YR
Description of route
Trains using the Pontefract line from Leeds use the same route as the Hallam line to Methley Junction:
- here is Methley Junction, where lines of the MidR, L&YR and the Great Northern Railway (GNR) converged.
- Castleford (also on the Hallam line)
- Glasshoughton (opened 21 February 2005)
- Pontefract Monkhill: junction with Wakefield line
- Knottingley: joint L&YR/GNR station. The Dearne Valley line has a junction at this point; there is also the Askern branch line for Doncaster
- Whitley Bridge
- runs under East Coast Main Line
- Hensall: junction for the Hull and Barnsley Railway (HBR - now to Drax); and the joint GCR/HBR line crossed the line about a mile further east
- Oakhills Junction with the Selby–Goole line closed in 1964
The Wakefield service joins the Leeds service at Pontefract; the station served for this section are:
- Wakefield Westgate (also served by the Huddersfield and Wakefield lines): the station was jointly owned by GCR and GNR; to the south was the West Riding and Grimsby Joint Railway (also owned by those companies)
- Wakefield Kirkgate (most trains start & finish here rather than running to/from Westgate due to congestion on the busy main line to Doncaster)
- leaving Wakefield there were a large number of junctions between there and Crofton
- there were two stations on this line serving Crofton and Sharlston
- Pontefract Tanshelf
- Pontefract Monkhill where the Leeds line joins
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