Fares rise fear as rail parking charges shelved

Patrick McLoughlin
Patrick McLoughlin
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RAIL PASSENGERS have been warned they could still take a hit in the pocket despite a Government Minister ruling out new parking charges at stations in and around Leeds.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has confirmed proposals to introduce parking charges at 18 stations - first revealed by the YEP last month - will not go ahead.

But concerns are growing that Northern Rail, which operates the bulk of local services, will instead increase some ticket prices.

The Government is discussing a two year extension to Northern Rail’s deal and wants to find ways to reduce the amount it pays in subsidies to keep local services going.

James Lewis, chairman of West Yorkshire transport body Metro, raised concerns about the parking charges idea in a letter to Mr McLoughlin last month.

He said: “I am pleased that Mr McLoughlin has listened to Metro about the impact and deliverability of these charges.”

But Coun Lewis added: “Passengers across West Yorkshire have seen fares rise but little in the way of investment and new trains meaning they are still travelling on crowded and out-dated trains with, as we saw last week, little prospect of much-needed new ones in the foreseeable future.

“We appreciate there is a need for the Department for Transport to find efficiencies in the franchise, but this shouldn’t be done by imposing measures that penalise local rail users in the short-term.

“I will be seeking clarification of any intentions the Department of Transport has to raise fares.”

It emerged last week that nine trains currently used for transpennine services will be moved to Chiltern Railways next year.

A Department for Transport spokesman said the discussions with Northern Rail are “commercially sensitive” and the setting of unregulated fares was a matter for the operator.

Northern Rail said it had been asked for cost-saving proposals and could not comment further until the deal is signed.

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