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Rail operator’s services labelled ‘overcrowded and awful’

Cross Country services have been branded 'awful'
Cross Country services have been branded 'awful'

A rail operator’s services were labelled “overcrowded”, “awful” and “terrible” at WYCA’s transport committee meeting.

The franchise for Cross Country, which currently runs fast services between Leeds, Wakefield and Sheffield, is due to expire next year.

The Department for Transport has been consulting on what the next franchise should look like, and whether it should include other services.

At the meeting, Wakefield councillor Kevin Swift said: “Top of the list of anyone’s concerns about Cross Country is the fact that the trains are too small.

“Most of the other issues can stem from the fact that they are too small and overcrowded.”

Under the current franchise, Cross Country currently runs one train per hour between Edinburgh and Plymouth, serving York, Leeds, Wakefield and Sheffield, as well as one train per hour between Newcastle and Reading, serving York, Doncaster and Sheffield.

Bradford councillor and board member Ian Greenwood told the meeting: “Anyone who’s ever travelled on the Cross Country line knows it’s like giving the rest of your life away.

“It’s an utterly, utterly awful experience.

“There is half as much capacity as there needs to be on massive chunks of it. It probably needs double the number of trains.”

Bids for operators to take on the service once the franchise has ended are expected to be received early next year, with a decision expected in October 2019.

Speaking about a report that went before the transport committee, officers and councillors agreed that, although improvements had been made to services affected by the summer’s timetable problems, services in the region were still not up to scratch.

Updating members of the committee on the current state of rail services in West Yorkshire, a WYCA officer told the meeting: “The reliability is significantly down on last year, and people are being left behind at stations.”

He added that workings at Leeds station had improved – and that driver training has taken place.