A RAFT of new parking charges at railway stations in and around Leeds have been ruled out by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
But sources have told the YEP the cost of maintaining free parking at 18 stations could be higher fares on local rail services.
The YEP revealed last month that Mr McLoughlin was considering proposals to introduce new parking charges to help reduce the amount of money the Government pays in subsidies to Northern Rail, the company responsible for local train services across much of the region.
However, after being challenged on the issue by Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew, the idea has now been shelved.
Mr McLoughlin said: “Having considered the matter carefully and following strong arguments made to me by Stuart, the decision has been taken not to include the proposals to introduce car parking fees at some rail stations in the Northern Direct Award.”
Mr Andrew said: “When I first learned of these proposals, I was hugely concerned about the impact they would have on traffic levels in our area, as well as the effect on families commuting to and from work. I therefore immediately met with the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, not only to emphasise my concerns about the impact any charges would have, but also to vehemently stress that the taxpayer has a huge bill to pay in subsidies for the lines they travel on.
“Acting quickly and decisively on this matter, taking it to the highest level, was the only effective way to proceed and I am delighted that the Secretary of State listened. As a result, the hardworking families in Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough will not have to have to face the additional expense of parking at rail stations before their commute.”
Northern Rail was asked to put forward ideas for reducing the cost of the northern rail franchise to the Government as Ministers consider an extension to its current contract to 2016.
And it is understood that alternative proposals included allowing Northern more freedom to set prices for a group of tickets known as “unregulated fares”.
Labour’s candidate for Pudsey at next year’s General Election, Jamie Hanley, has written to Mr McLoughlin calling on him not to raise fares.
He said: “Last week we learned that our over-crowded and dated local railway network is to lose yet more of its rolling stock to be sent to the Home Counties.
“What we need is investment in railways connecting northern cities and local services getting northern commuters to work – not yet more fare hikes for hard-pressed passengers getting a second rate service.”