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Train services in the south and east of the district are badly in need of investment to meet soaring demand for rail travel.

The claim was made by rail campaigners who spoke to the Express as part of our campaign Our Fair Share, which is investigating whether places like Hemsworth, South Elmsall, Castleford and Pontefract get a raw deal.

Campaigners said overcrowded trains and a lack of regular services to Leeds, Sheffield and Doncaster meant people were struggling to commute to jobs outside the district.

Chris Hyomes, from the Yorkshire branch of action group Rail Future, said: “They are definitely not adequate at all.

“There are several problems and the biggest one is overcrowding at peak times. It’s a serious problem.”

Mr Hyomes said rail use had sky-rocketed in recent years, but services had not been expanded to meet demand.

He said: “Since the Northern franchise started in 2004, rail patronage has grown by nearly 50 per cent.

“At peak periods we need longer trains and more trains.

“It’s a well-known fact that if you have good transport infrastruture you have a growing economy.

“Places like Pontefract and Castleford are still strugging from the closure of the mines and people have to travel out of the district for work.”

In Pontefract, members of the towns’ civic society and councillor Celia Loughran handed a petition to James Lewis, chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, calilng for improved services.

Coun Loughran said: “Train services are poor and this is having a negative effect on people who need to travel for work in Leeds and Wakefield never mind those who wish to study at college or university.

“Added to this is the poor state of many of the trains run by Northern Rail and there have been reported instances of people not being able to travel due to lack of capacity.

“The last direct train back from Leeds leaves just after 10pm. which is totally inadequate in this day and age.”

Coun Lewis said the Department for Transport was running a consultation on new Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises which will begin in February 2016.

He said: “The campaigns for improved rail services in Pontefract and Knottingley are right when they say that people travelling to work from commuter towns around London would not expect to do so on trains that are neither frequent enough nor long enough.’

‘More and more people are using our rail network and we need to see greater investment in services such as this, linking people with jobs and enabling them to travel in a level of comfort they quite rightly expect.”

Coun Lewis urged people to have their say on the new franchises by logging on to http://www.railnorth.org