train services in and out of Leeds are not meeting the region’s needs and need a radical tranformation, a top transport official has admitted.
The man in charge of rail franchises was defending a consultation on the future of train services in the region which has been criticised by transport campaigners for lacking ambition.
Peter Wilkinson, rail franchising director at the Department for Transport, said the Government was asking “honest questions” about the future of rail services in the North and how the costs of improvements can be met.
The Government will shortly begin the competition for private companies to run the transpennine and northern rail franchises from 2016 which cover the bulk of services in West Yorkshire.
A consultation document on the design of those services launched in June suggested there may need to be “trade offs” such as cutting lightly used services to pay for better trains.
Rail campaigners have criticised the Government’s approach and contrasted it with the significant investment put into public transport in the South East.
Mr Wilkinson told the YEP the competition was aimed at transforming the quality of rail services in the North.
“I don’t believe that they are fit for purpose given the amount of growth we have now seen in rail usage in the North over the last 20 years,” he said.
“What we need is a rail service that is fit for purpose and capable of withstanding what will inevitably be continuation in that growth.
“To achieve that we’ve got some challenges and part of the challenge is how to fund investment in the infrastructure and the rolling stock to provide capacity for that growth and so we’ve asked some very honest questions.”