Friday, September 25, 2020
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Northern Rail ‘won’t cut services in spring’

Soon-to-be-nationalised rail operator Northern has claimed it will not reduce services during this spring’s timetable changes, writes Richard Beecham.

It follows the leader of a West Yorkshire local authority expressing concern that rail operators could try to reduce the number of services in the region in order to boost efficiency.

Leader of Calderdale Council Tim Swift made the comments in a meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) in Leeds, during a discussion on the future of rail travel in the region.

But Northern, which will be taken back into public ownership on March 1, said it has no intentions of reducing the number of services in the region.

new pudsey station
New Pudsey Station. Photo: Ian Kirk, used under Creative Commons licence

The announcement will be seen as good news by West Leeds train users relying on services at Bramley, Burley Park, Kirkstall Forge and New Pudsey Stations.

Coun Swift told the meeting:

“The taking back of Northern is an important first step, but it doesn’t solve the problems.

“I do worry about the May timetable changes. When we have had potential changes, we are told these things take months and years to plan.

“I fear that the argument will be that they will reduce the frequency of trains to improve reliability. If that is the case, they need to be up front about it.”

A spokesperson for Northern responded:

“We are finalising our plans for the new timetable which will launch in May this year.

“We are committed to providing the best possible service for our customers and have no intention of reducing the number of services we operate in Yorkshire.

“Since 2016 Northern has, across the entire network, introduced 2,000 extra services per week and we continue to look for ways to give our customers more choice and flexibility.”

News about Northern’s nationalisation was announced last week by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Shapps said that from March 1 the Northern franchise would be taken into public ownership and the Government will begin operating services through the so-called operator of last resort.5

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