Cuts to Leeds - Harrogate train services from this May 'will cause major gaps', claims council leader

Cuts to major train services in Leeds from this Spring could cause "major gaps" in services between Leeds and other major northern towns and cities, the leader of Leeds City Council has claimed.

By Richard Beecham
Friday, 18th March 2022, 4:56 pm

Timetable changes in May will see further reductions to services from rail operator Northern, affecting the busy Harrogate Line that serves communities in north west Leeds, as well as services to Halifax, Hull, York, Sheffield and Bradford.

Northern said it is doing its best for customers, but claimed it had to make the changes as fewer passengers were using their services.

But Leeds City Council leader James Lewis (Lab) said: “We are very concerned that these cuts are coming in at a time when trains are getting busier as more people return to working in Leeds city centre, as well as at a crucial time for businesses in the night time economy as they recover from the impact of the pandemic.

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Trains will be less frequent between Leeds and Harrogate from May. (Pic: Adobestock)

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“We are calling on Northern to commit to returning to a full timetable as soon as possible.”

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “I’m angry and disappointed to see yet another round of cuts to train services across West Yorkshire, with some of our least connected communities being hit hardest.

“I have written to Northern seeking an urgent meeting to explain why these cuts are taking place, and what steps they will be taking to return to a full timetable.

“I am deeply concerned that the impact of the pandemic is being used as a smokescreen for cuts to local rail services and have written to the Transport Secretary to confirm that his government is committed to supporting operators to re-instate services as soon as possible.

“Rail demand has been recovering more quickly in the North than in other parts of the country. At a time when people are returning to offices to work or visiting friends and family, to then cut back services is unfathomable. Our night-time economy will also suffer with so many gaps in services in the evenings.”

Extra cuts to services, set to come into force on Sunday, May 15, include the 7.29pm and 9.39pm services on the Leeds – Harrogate – York line, which also serves Burley Park, Headingley, Horsforth. This means a two hour 10 minute gap between 9.29pm and 11.39pm services between Leeds and Harrogate. The 9.13am, 6.47pm and 9.44pm services from Harrogate to Leeds will also be removed in May.

Three services in each direction on the Leeds – Wakefield Westgate – Sheffield line will also be removed. The 9.48am, 12.48pm and 3.48pm services from Leeds, and the 8.16am, 11.15am, and 2.15pm services from Sheffield will be scrapped.

Services on the Halifax – Bradford – Leeds – Selby – Hull line will be only every two hours, with the 7.17am, 11.15am, 3.16pm, 7.15om and 10.15pm services from Hull; and 9.17am, 1.17pm, 5.17pm and 9.17pm services from Halifax all finishing.

A spokesperson for Northern said: “We fully understand the concerns of those using our trains in West Yorkshire and we are doing all we can to provide the best possible service for our customers who are very much at the heart of everything we do.

“We’re seeing fewer commuters travelling each day, and people travelling at different times of the week and for different reasons. We’ve made decisions about our timetables based on the levels of resource we have available and prioritising the routes with the highest customer demand, and which support the region’s economic growth.

"The timetables currently in place will broadly continue with some amendments from May 2022 and into the Summer."