Halifax MP Holly Lynch has joined Labour council colleagues to demand that rail bosses reverse their latest plans to cut rail services at Calderdale stations.
Holly and local councillors from Sowerby Bridge have been campaigning for more frequent and reliable services for some time, but say the latest timetable – scheduled for introduction in December – will make things significantly worse for passengers travelling from both Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd.
Under the new timetable York to Blackpool trains will no longer call at Sowerby Bridge or Mytholmroyd on weekdays, meaning a 33% reduction in standard hour frequency at these stations, with even more serious consequences at peak hours. There would be only one train per hour from Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd travelling in the Halifax/Bradford direction, and the present eight weekday trains from Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd arriving in Leeds before 9am will be reduced to five, with a gap of over an hour between the first two trains.
On Sundays the Blackpool trains will continue to call at Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd, but the Manchester trains will run through non-stop, amounting to a 50% cut in service frequency. It will only be possible to travel to and from Manchester by changing at Hebden Bridge, with some long waits of up to around half an hour.
In a scathing letter to rail chiefs, the Labour representatives say this reduction in service is “simply unacceptable” and “makes a mockery of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s ambition to provide a world-class public transport system.”
The letter is signed by council Leader Cllr Tim Swift and Deputy Leader Cllr Jane Scullion, as well as Holly Lynch MP and ward councillors. It demands that the proposed changes are reversed so that at the very least services do not get worse than they are currently.
Holly Lynch MP said:
“The latest timetable is an insult to rail users and those of us who have been campaigning hard for better services for some time now.
“Despite all the talk of a Northern Powerhouse our rail services just go from bad to worse. First the delay to phasing out the Pacer trains and now this. It is time the system was renationalised so that passengers are prioritised rather than profits.”
Cllr Adam Wilkinson, Sowerby Bridge, said:
“We met with Northern at the start of the summer to make the case for more services for Sowerby Bridge in particular, and we were given assurances that things would improve, so this latest blow is particularly frustrating.
“Sowerby Bridge station serves a larger population than many neighbouring stations and yet the service is woeful. We will continue fighting for the services the community deserves.”