Train timetable changes to affect Wakefield

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Thousands of rail passengers from across the Wakefield district will be affected by changes to rail timetables.

The changes, which are part of a nationwide revamp of services, will start on May 20 and will remain in place until December.

More trains will run during the morning and evening rush hours between Pontefract and Wakefield Kirkgate on the Goole to Leeds route.

And minor alterations have also been made on the Leeds to Nottingham service, which serves Normanton and Castleford, but the frequency of trains will remain the same.

Times on the Leeds to Sheffield service, which calls at Outwood, Wakefield Westgate, Sandal and Agbrigg, South Elmsall and Fitzwilliam, have also changed slightly.

Campaigners had feared that the number of trains on this route would be cut, but this will not be the case.

Train operator Northern had hoped to make further improvements across the area this month. But their plans were disrupted by delays in electrifying lines in Greater Manchester, meaning carriages which should have been bound for West Yorkshire are still being used on the other side of the Pennines.

Speaking at a West Yorkshire Combined Authority meeting, Pete Myers from Northern said: “We’re in excess of 50 trains short of what we needed to run the timetable as we’d hoped.

“The option of going through to December (as things stand) was just not possible and so we had to re-write the timetable.

“I can’t overexaggerate the amount of work that took from a small team of planners who’ve worked it out.

“There are several changes that have been deferred, but they are still going to happen.

“What isn’t happening at the moment is the extension of the Huddersfield to Wakefield service to and from Castleford. That’s a deferral – it’s certainly not the end of things. We simply haven’t got the rolling stock available to run any further.”

David Young, who represented passengers from Sandal and Agbrigg at the meeting, said afterwards that the changes were “as good an outcome as we could have hoped for”.

He said: “It is good news that we’re not losing a service.”

David Hogg, from the Pontefract Civic Society welcomed changes made to the Goole to Leeds line, but was critical of the state of service on the slow Sheffield to York route, which runs via Pontefract Baghill.

Only two trains run directly between Baghill and York each day and Mr Hogg said he was “disappointed” there will be no additional services.

Mr Hogg said: “The service to Leeds has actually been improved and is a good service. We’re grateful for the extra train.

“But on the York to Sheffield line we were supposed to be getting an extra service at tea time and that hasn’t happened.

“It’s a line that was sabotaged in the 80s and 90s in a climate when the railways were being run down. But now we know we need trains, it’s time to reverse the damage.”

Full details of timetable changes can be found at https://www.northernrailway.co.uk/travel/timetables.