Leeds commuters could see major improvements to local rail routes as the city council prepares to seize partial control over the Northern and Trans-Pennine rail networks.
Longer trains, revamped stations, new carriages and more frequent services are among the benefits transport bosses say will follow more local input into how West Yorkshire’s rail networks are run.
Civic leaders from across the North met with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to discuss a new partnership between Whitehall and local councils to managing the Northern and Trans-Pennine rail franchises, which are both up for renewal in 2016.
Though a final announcement is not expected until early next year, sources at the Department for Transport (DfT) said it has accepted the principle of more local control over rail services. However, the DfT is refusing to relinquish total control to Northern councils, insisting its own officials work alongside to manage the process.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, James Lewis, chair of West Yorkshire transport body Metro, said: “We’re looking at a joint body to award the franchise and manage the contract.
“The key thing is we’re looking at sharing the proceeds of growth. People in Yorkshire pay a national ticket rise each year but don’t feel any benefit.
“We want a direct relationship - so when you see passenger growth on the local railways, instead of that disappearing into the national rail structure, we can invest it locally.”
Coun Lewis and the leaders of other major councils also delivered a declaration to Downing Street demanding Parliament “unite” behind the proposed HS2 rail link to London.