EMBATTLED train operator Northern Rail has come under renewed fire ahead of a timetables shake-up which could inconvenience hundreds of passengers a day in Halifax.
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) says revised schedules being introduced by the operator next month will mean the withdrawal of direct services between stations in east Leeds and places including Bradford and Halifax.
News of the changes comes six months after the botched implementation of another set of timetables caused major disruption for rail users across the North. Staff at Northern have also staged dozens of days of industrial action since March last year in a dispute over guards on trains.
Councillor Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: “It is vital that we have local transport networks that enable everyone across West Yorkshire to have access to jobs and education.
“It would be disappointing to lose direct rail journeys between Halifax, Bradford, and East Leeds and it’s particularly annoying that the rail industry makes changes with no regard for the journeys people need to make.”
Leeds City Council leader and WYCA member Coun Judith Blake added: “I am dismayed by both the removal of these services and the lack of consultation around this decision, which will inconvenience hundreds of passengers a day.
“We are urgently taking this issue up with Northern Rail and Transport for the North to make the case for the restoration of these services.
“Once again we are seeing decisions being taken by rail industry officials with little or no consideration of the impacts on passengers which, given we are still dealing with the impact of the calamitous timetable change in May, indicates lessons have not yet been learned.
“It is vital that passengers and their representatives are given a stronger voice in the way rail services are operated in the North of England and I will be ensuring this, and the need for much greater transparency about operator performance, is at the centre of the Blake-Johnson review.”
A Northern spokesman said the new schedules were part of a push to provide improved “inter urban express services” for the region.
The spokesman added: “These changes were consulted with all parties last year, and at that time no concern was expressed with regard to the proposed changes.”