A railway station which was called “the worst in Britain” will be staffed from 6am-10pm every day under a new rail operator.
Bleak Kirkgate railway station was a dilapidated eyesore when the Express launched our Staff our Station campaign six years ago.
The grade II-listed station, built in 1854, has since been transformed with a £5.6m refurbishment which includes a new cafe and upgraded passenger facilities with better CCTV, lobby and subway.
Retail space and offices have also been added to the new station, which was reopened in September after the refurbishment by regeneration charity Groundwork.
Now further improvements and extended staffing hours from April have been announced after Arriva was awarded the Northern Rail franchise by the Department for Transport.
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said: “I am delighted that the Department for Transport has announced that from next year Wakefield Kirkgate station will be staffed between 6am and 10pm every day.
“The decision commits current and any future providers to staffing during operating hours. This is a landmark moment for the Staff Our Station campaign and great news for users of Kirkgate.”
A photography studio and cafe are open at the station and tenants are expected to move into the renovated building, said Harjinder Sandhu, Corporate Services Director at Groundwork Wakefield.
He added: “These tenants will help to create a vibrant and active station area, which will benefit the community and station users.
“We will continue to work with the partners of the project and Arriva Rail North, the new franchise operator, to ensure that the Station remains a safe and welcoming place for residents and visitors.”
The latest improvements at Kirkgate are part of the government’s Northern Connect service, which will see stations being staffed daily around West Yorkshire.
Chris Burchell, managing director of Arriva’s UK Trains Division, said: “We are proud to be given the opportunity to transform rail travel for passengers in the north of England and to work closely with our partners to connect towns, cities and communities like never before.”
Arriva said it would invest £1bn in services in the North of England after being awarded the franchise until 2025.