Train cuts in Yorkshire spark anger from leaders as more services to be slashed

Leaders in West Yorkshire have reacted with fury after it was revealed that Northern Rail is to slash train services connecting towns and cities in the region.

Services to be cut include train journeys that run between Leeds and Harrogate, Wakefield, Sheffield, Selby, Hull and Halifax.

The cuts will come into force in May, and mean some passengers could be forced to wait up to two hours for a service.

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Campaigners also pointed out concerns that the first train from Pontefract into Leeds does not arrive until after 9am.

Services to be cut include train journeys that run between Leeds and Harrogate, Wakefield, Sheffield, Selby, Hull and Halifax.

It follows a swathe of cuts made last December as the rail industry continues to struggle as passenger numbers have never returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin has demanded a meeting with the rail operator in the wake of the announced cuts.

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She said: “I’m angry and disappointed to see yet another round of cuts to train services across West Yorkshire, with some of our least connected communities

being hit hardest.

“I have written to Northern seeking an urgent meeting to explain why these cuts are taking place, and what steps they will be taking to return to a full timetable.

“I am deeply concerned that the impact of the pandemic is being used as a smokescreen for cuts to local rail services and have written to the Transport Secretary to confirm that his government is committed to supporting operators to re-instate services as soon as possible.

“Rail demand has been recovering more quickly in the North than in other parts of the country.

“At a time when people are returning to offices to work or visiting friends and family, to then cut back services is unfathomable. Our night-time economy will also suffer with so many gaps in services in the evenings.”

The leader of Leeds City Council, Labour’s James Lewis, echoed concerns about the impact on the city’s night-time economy.

He raised particular concerns about north Leeds stations on the Harrogate line not being served.

He said: “We are very concerned that these cuts are coming in at a time when trains are getting busier as more people return to working in Leeds city centre, as well as at a crucial time for businesses in the night-time economy as they recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“We are particularly concerned by the impact this will have on passengers in Burley Park, Headingley and Horsforth who rely on the train to get home from work late in an evening, or return from an evening out in the city centre.

“We are calling on Northern to commit to returning to a full timetable as soon as possible.”

Earlier this year, Transport for the North warned train operators are being asked to make substantial savings by the Government, after it found the two key operators in the region, Northern and TransPennine Express, are only running 85 per cent of pre-pandemic services.

It comes just weeks after steep increases in fares saw commuters faced with hikes of up to £100 on season tickets.

A spokesperson for Northern said: “We’ve made decisions about our timetables based on the levels of resource we have and prioritising the routes with the highest customer demand, and which support the region’s economic growth.”