Cuts to trains at Wakefield Westgate made without consulting authorities

Wakefield Westgate station
-Credit: (Image: LDRS/Google Maps)

The decision to axe trains stopping at Wakefield Westgate station was made without consulting the local authorities, it has been reported.

At a meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) Transport Committee, councillors expressed their frustration at the decision by CrossCountry, to reduce the number of trains stopping at Wakefield Westgate over the summer months. They claimed the decision would heap pressure on the local rail network and leave some communities "isolated".

This comes after the decision by CrossCountry, which means ten services a day between Scotland and South-West England will no longer stop in the city.

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CrossCountry said this was designed to encourage passengers who are making shorter journeys to use other services so as to free up space for those on longer journeys. A report says this decision was made without consulting the WYCA or Transport for the North (TfN).

At a meeting of the transport committee, on Friday, May 24, a number of concerns were raised. Armaan Khan, who represents Normanton on Wakefield Council, said: "Can I add my frustrations about the CrossCountry service and the changes that are coming in.

"Do we know why there was no consultation with the combined authority with regards to this? Is the decision likely to be reviewed at any point in the future?"

Dave Haskins, WYCA interim director for transport operations and passenger experience, said: "We have been working closely with the rail industry around this as much as we can.

"We recognise that when these things happen they have consequences and ultimately there ends up being some trade-offs. In some cases we believe we can live with the trade-offs. In some cases we are quite unhappy. This has been one where it has been quite challenging."

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Jakob Williamson, councillor for Hemsworth, said the local network is already under strain due to Northern reducing the number of carriages on services travelling through the district. He said: "We are now losing a significant number of these CrossCountry services in both directions every day.

"It’s going to put significant pressure on the rest of the network. I worry when I look at the wider transport picture. Buses have been hit hard – we have got serious issues with reliability and punctuality.

"All the towns and villages within the district are becoming isolated from one another. Our district is also becoming isolated from other districts within West Yorkshire. We can’t go on. Train operators need to be looking at the rail network holistically.

"This can only be profit driven. I think as passengers we are paying over the odds in terms of fares. It’s about time we started giving back to passengers and the taxpayers and start providing some decent services, rather than just cut, cut, cut."

Simon Warburton, WYCA executive director of transport, said the authority had raised the issue with TfN. He said: "Effectively CrossCountry acts as a local service through parts of Wakefield and perhaps that gets a little bit overlooked."

Committee chair Susan Hinchcliffe said: "Part of the issue is that when the railway industry looks at trains, passenger numbers and connectivity, they don’t see the wider cohesion issues, the economic issues and the regeneration issues that we all rely on transport for. It’s hugely damaging for our economy and they need to see the wider ramifications of that."