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Longer rail franchises and a fairer distribution of
Government transport funding are among the answers to rail
overcrowding, said Metro Chairman Cllr Chris Greaves today.
Responding to a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts
Committee that says overcrowding on trains in West Yorkshire will
increase beyond already unacceptable overcrowding levels, Cllr
Greaves said that franchises of 15 to 20 years would provide the
incentive for rail operators, criticised in the report, to invest
in new carriages.
As long as the appropriate performance checks were in place,
offering rail operators longer franchises that require and make
possible investment in new carriages, would help to address the
problem, he said.
Cllr Greaves told BBC Radio's Five Live that according to the
Department for Transport's own figures, since 2004 the Leeds city
region has seen growth in rail users of 34%, the highest in the
country. Despite this growth, which included a 6% rise on West
Yorkshire's morning peak services between 2009 and 2010, Northern
Rail had only been scheduled to receive eight out of 526 new
carriages ordered nationally, and most of these were earmarked for
"Northern Rail have done good job considering their franchise,
was let on a 'no growth, basis which offers the company no
incentive for them to invest in extra carriages," he said. "That is
why we have the ridiculous situation of people driving to a station
three miles in the wrong direction, so they have a greater chance
of getting a seat on the train".
Metro, in partnership with Northern and Yorkshire Forward had
put together an innovative £20m funding deal which secured
six additional trains for the local network but the problems needed
to be addressed at a national level, continued Cllr Greaves.
"Despite our efforts, during this morning's peak 36% of trains
will have carried passengers who did not get a seat and tonight 44%
of trains will carry standing passengers, added Cllr Greaves. "I
would welcome the opportunity to accompany Transport Secretary
Philip Hammond on some of those trains to show him this is a
problem that is affecting people in all parts of the country and
not just the south east and London."