Fears of fare rise as parking is still free at Steeton and Silsden station

First published in News

Controversial plans to scrap free parking at railway stations have been dropped.

Steeton and Silsden station on the Airedale line was among several sites across West Yorkshire where charges were due to be introduced.

But Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has now ruled out the idea.

However, with the Government set to slash the subsidy it pays Northern Rail to run services, there are growing concerns of a hike in ticket prices.

Coun James Lewis, chairman of county transport body Metro, said: “I am pleased Mr McLoughlin has listened to us about the impact of the parking charges.

“We feel they would have had an adverse effect on passenger numbers and an impact on neighbourhoods around the stations affected.”

He added that he was concerned about any increase in fares.

“Passengers across West Yorkshire have seen fares rise but little in the way of investment and new trains,” he said.

“This means they are still travelling on crowded and outdated trains with little prospect of much-needed replacements.

“I will be seeking clarification of any intentions the department has to raise fares.”

John Grogan – Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Keighley – opposed the parking charge plan, claiming it would create little revenue and lead to more traffic chaos near stations such as Steeton and Silsden.

He said: “The Transport Secretary has carried out one of the quickest U-turns in recent political history following many complaints from West Yorkshire’s hard pressed commuters.

“Residents of Steeton will be particularly pleased that car parking problems will not be made worse near the station.

“The veiled threat, however, that rail fares may have to rise as a consequence is another bolt from the blue. It looks like a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Tim Calow, chairman of Aire Valley Rail Users’ Group, said: “As the fare rises in January were above the rate of inflation, we would be disappointed if there is an additional increase.”

Northern Rail says it has put forward proposals at the Government’s request on cutting costs and improving facilities.

A spokesman said: “Talks are ongoing and we can’t make any further comment.”

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