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30 June 2009
Despite pledging 182 additional carriages for the Northern Rail
Franchise in 2007, it has emerged that the Department for Transport
(DfT) now plans to almost halve that figure.
It is also unclear how many of those much-needed carriages would
be new, when they would be introduced or whether they would meet
the needs of local networks in terms of electric or diesel
Cllr Downes has called on West Yorkshire and Leeds City Region
MPs to make their voices heard at the Westminster Hall debate
'Spending on railways in the North of England' on Wednesday 1 July,
to prevent what he called DfT 'backsliding'.
He said, "The number of additional carriages that the DfT is
proposing for the whole of the Northern franchise would barely meet
the 60-90 carriages it identified in 2007 for the Leeds area
" 'Since the late 1990s numbers of peak rail passenger in West
Yorkshire numbers have almost doubled and that number is continuing
to grow, yet Northern Rail has had no new carriages in the last
"Sixty percent of all peak hour arrivals into Leeds carry standing
passengers and across the 3 hour peak period, 11% of arrivals into
Leeds are operating above maximum capacity," he continued.
"By contrast the franchises providing commuter services in
London and the south east have had 580 new carriages over the same
period," he continued. "It looks as though the DfT is once again
aiming to sell northern cities short by overlooking the desperate
need we have for extra capacity to reduce overcrowding on our
He added, "I am sure our MPs will be very unhappy with this
situation and the knock on effect it could have in undermining
economic recovery and delaying growth and will want to make this
very clear at Wednesday's debate."