Frustration over delayed rail service enhancements

Sunrise at Apperley Bridge stationAs details of new rail timetables affecting services emerge, Cllr Keith Wakefield, who is Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, has expressed frustration that promised improvements, some of which should have been introduced in December last year, are not going ahead.

Cllr Wakefield said: “What is emerging is that promised improvements, most of which are already overdue, are not going to be part of these forthcoming service changes.

“The increase from two to four trains per hour between Leeds and Harrogate, the introduction of direct trains between the Calder Valley and Manchester Airport, and the new direct link to Castleford from Huddersfield will now not materialise when the new timetable starts in May.

“Passengers at Slaithwaite and Marsden on the cross-Pennine route connecting Leeds, Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Manchester will see a reduction in their peak commuting services to Manchester and back, and there will be fewer morning and evening peak services between Micklefield, East Garforth, Garforth and Leeds.

Slower journeys

“Also passengers in Airedale and Wharfedale will find it harder to make journeys changing trains at Shipley, and people travelling on the Calder Valley Line will experience significantly slower journeys despite the significant investment in infrastructure that has taken place along the route.

“And we share passengers’ concerns about a lack of passenger capacity on trans-Pennine services via Huddersfield, Calder Valley trains and on the routes to Castleford, as well as the York & Selby lines. On Sundays, travellers on the Northern routes connecting Leeds to Doncaster and Sheffield via Wakefield Westgate will face a much worse timetable than today, rather than the promised doubling of services.

“We have already called on the government to carry out an urgent overhaul of the processes for planning and delivering improvements to the rail network that encourage investment and support economic growth. This disappointing set of timetable updates makes the need for that review to take place even more urgent and I will be writing to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and calling on him to take action.

Compensation

“I also expect to see any compensation the rail companies receive as a result of these delays used to provide real and permanent benefits to local customers.”

“There have been some welcome improvements such as the introduction of a half-hourly train service for Kirkstall Forge station and the long-awaited weekday service from Leeds and Wakefield to Knottingley and we look forward to more. However, train users in West Yorkshire and the City Region will, like us, be disappointed to learn that improvements they were expecting to see are not going ahead and in some cases services are getting worse.

“The planned service improvements would have helped people from across the City Region access jobs, education and services and improve connectivity and productivity across West Yorkshire, the City Region and the North. Their delay is symptomatic of the disconnect between planned rail infrastructure improvements and service upgrades agreed in franchise agreements.

“We know this month’s changes are temporary but that will be cold comfort to those people who were expecting the better services that have been promised but in reality will see no improvements and in some cases a worse situation.”

Details of the new timetables can be found on the National Rail Enquiries website. 

08 May 2018

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