A MAJOR Yorkshire rail operator has come under fire after it announced new restrictions on the use of cheaper tickets.
Northern Rail has said that, from Monday, September 8, off-peak tickets will no longer be valid for weekday evening rush-hour journeys on local services in West Yorkshire.
Mick Cash, acting general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, yesterday claimed the step was a “savage kick in the teeth” for the travelling public.
Northern commercial director Richard Allan said: “The majority of customers who travel at peak times, such as those with season tickets, M-cards and Metrocards, will be unaffected by these changes but we want to make sure that those who are know about what is happening.
“We have consulted extensively with local stakeholders and with Passenger Focus on the detail of this change, which is part of our new franchise agreement that was announced in March.”
Under the terms of Northern’s franchise deal, the amount taxpayers give to the firm to subsidise the cost of local services is being cut by around £16m per year.
Tightening the rules on evening rush-hour tickets, however, will allow the operator to raise more money from passengers.
A spokesman for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which includes what was Metro, the county’s passenger transport authority, said the shake-up would inconvenience some rail users.
The spokesman went on: “We have always maintained that funds raised from measures such as this should be ploughed back into the network and look forward to seeing details of how these new restrictions will lead to investment in new rolling stock to cater for the growing numbers of local train users.”
Train cleaning staff are to stage strike action in a dispute over pay.
Staff employed by contractor ISS on the East Coast line between London, Yorkshire and Scotland will walk out for two days from Friday.