Rail users can share their views about the state of the railways at the annual meeting of HADRAG (Halifax and District Rail Action Group) on Saturday.
Guest speaker is Adam Timewell, commercial franchise manager with Rail North Partnership, the body that involves regional authorities and the Department for Transport. Working for the public body that supervises the franchise, Adam has a key role in overseeing the Northern franchise which is operated by Arriva.
HADRAG will be voicing concerns not just about the present level of delays and cancellations to train services but also about the need to maximise benefits for local stations when enhancements and improvements are eventually brought in.
The campaigners believe that stations such as Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse, which serve substantial urban areas, get a relatively poor deal compared with stations traditionally served by the faster services.
Chair of HADRAG Stephen Waring said: “Nobody I have spoken to can recall services being disrupted so badly in the past by a timetable change. We saw nothing like this when all times changed across the North in 2014, nor at previous recasts either on the privatised railway or under British Rail.
“We know it’s not just Northern and there have been problems across the country. We know that Northern has been badly hit by late running infrastructure projects and they have had to defer enhancements. But it now seems there’s more to it than that, and part of the problem is the need to train new staff - drivers and conductors - on new routes.
“We trust they will soon get the new timetable working correctly. But even then there will still be issues that need to be improved at the earliest opportunity. Uneven clockface patterns such as Halifax towards Leeds that seem to make a mockery of the idea of a train every 15 minutes. And the situation on the Brighouse line where the direct trains via Dewsbury overtake the ones via Bradford, making a mockery of a twice hourly frequency.
“When the new destinations - Manchester Airport, Chester and Liverpool - are eventually introduced, that must be done in a way that improves, not worsens the service pattern at our local stations including ones that serve significant urban areas like Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse.
“They have temporarily cut back the popular Blackpool-Halifax-York trains to Preston-Leeds. This is particularly disappointing, not least for Mytholmroyd and Sowerby Bridge passengers who are now served by these trains - something HADRAG has been pressing for over many years. Northern have promised us they will restore this through link as soon as trains are available.
“We have a key figure from the Rail North Partnership, Adam Timewell, at our Annual Meeting on Saturday. It will be fascinating to hear Adam’s perspective on Northern Rail, its current problems and how it will move forward. We hope local train passengers will come along and have their say.”
The meeting takes place at St Paul’s Church, Tower Hill, Sowerby Bridge, HX6 2EQ and doors open at 10am for light refreshments before a 10.20am start.