Rail operator warned timetable changes could break franchise pledges

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A RAIL firm has been warned proposed changes to services in Calderdale and the county could break promises it made to secure its franchise.

Northern, which operates local services in Yorkshire, has been asked to look again at alterations it is planning to make from May next year which could break the terms of its franchise or lead to a worse service for passengers.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has told Northern the changes “include first trains that are not early enough, last trains that are too early, and train frequencies falling short of requirements”.

A combined authority report says the potential franchise breaches “may be the result of errors by [Northern], and they are looking into them”.

It says the body has also raised concerns about timetable changes which would be allowed under the franchise but could inconvenience passengers.

The authority has told Northern the timetable alterations could lead to a “markedly worse” service between Leeds, Bradford and Halifax.

Its report questions the number of peak services Northern is proposing to run east of Leeds and raises concerns about “undesirable stopping patterns” at stations including Church Fenton.

Northern is run by Arriva Rail North which took over the franchise which covers local rail services in Yorkshire last year with a promise of significant improvements.

A spokesman for Northern said “anomalies” had been identified as a result of its consultation and amendments were being made.

He said: “Our proposals will see more trains out on the network, faster journeys and increased capacity on key routes during peak hours.

“This will all be supported by a fully refurbished fleet and the early stages of the introduction of our new, purpose built, carriages. The review of the consultation is in the very early stages – nothing has been set in stone – and we are thankful for all feedback on the proposals as we work to develop timetables which provide the best possible service to Northern’s customers.”