Wakefield trains: Frustration over 'lack of consultation' on decision to axe Wakefield Westgate rail services

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A train operator’s decision to axe some services at Wakefield Westgate station was taken without consulting authorities, a meeting heard.

Councillors expressed frustration at CrossCountry’s announcement that some long-distance trains will no longer call at the city’s main station over the summer months.

It was also claimed it would heap more pressure on an already-overcrowded local rail network and leave some communities “isolated".

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From next month, 10 services a day between Scotland and the South West of England will no longer stop at Westgate.

Westgate, WakefieldWestgate, Wakefield
Westgate, Wakefield

CrossCountry said the changes are designed to encourage passengers making shorter journeys to switch to other operators, providing more capacity for those making longer journeys.

A report says the decision was taken without West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WTCA) or Transport for the North (TfN) being consulted.

Members of WYCA’s transport committee raised concerns over the issue at a meeting on yesterday.

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Armaan Khan, who represents Normanton on Wakefield Council, said: “Can I add my frustrations about the CrossCountry service and the changes that are coming in?

“Do we know why there was no consultation with the combined authority with regards to this?

“Is the decision likely to be reviewed at any point in the future?”

Dave Haskins, WYCA interim director for transport operations and passenger experience, said: “We have been working closely with the rail industry around this as much as we can.

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“We recognise that when these things happen they have consequences and ultimately there ends up being some trade-offs.

“In some cases we believe we can live with the trade-offs. In some cases we are quite unhappy.

“This has been one where it has been quite challenging.”

Jakob Williamson, councillor for Hemsworth, said the local network is already under strain due to Northern reducing the number of carriages on services travelling through the district.

He said: “We are now losing a significant number of these CrossCountry services in both directions every day.

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“It’s going to put significant pressure on the rest of the network.

“I worry when I look at the wider transport picture.

“Buses have been hit hard – we have got serious issues with reliability and punctuality.

“All the towns and villages within the district are becoming isolated from one another.

“Our district is also becoming isolated from other districts within West Yorkshire.

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“We can’t go on. Train operators need to be looking at the rail network holistically.

“This can only be profit driven. I think as passengers we are paying over the odds in terms of fares.

“It’s about time we started giving back to passengers and the taxpayers and start providing some decent services, rather than just cut, cut,cut.”

Simon Warburton, WYCA executive director of transport, said the authority had raised the issue with TfN

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He said: “Effectively CrossCountry acts as a local service through parts of Wakefield and perhaps that gets a little bit overlooked.

Committee chair Susan Hinchcliffe said: “Part of the issue is that when the railway industry looks at trains, passenger numbers and connectivity, they don’t see the wider cohesion issues, the economic issues and the regeneration issues that we all rely on transport for.

“It’s hugely damaging for our economy and they need to see the wider ramifications of that.”

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