Rail users have welcomed the extension of the MetroCard system to Skipton, which was announced this week.

Although the scheme will be restricted to trains and will not include buses as in West Yorkshire, it has been welcomed as a positive first step.

From May 17, Cononley and Skipton railway stations will come under the newly-created Metro Zone 7.

Passengers will be able to buy weekly, monthly and annual tickets allowing them to travel within the Metro zone.

For Skipton commuters travelling daily to Leeds or Bradford, the existing season ticket will still be cheaper, but for those travelling further on more than one train, or at the weekends, there will be a saving.

A weekly ticket from Skipton to Bradford currently costs £27.10 whereas a weekly MetroCard from Skipton will cost £39.60 It is also hoped that long-standing parking problems at Steeton and Silsden railway station – caused by people driving out of the area to get into the Metro zone – will be reduced.

Metro deputy chairman Coun Ryk Downes said: “These new zones can provide benefits to people in Harrogate and Skipton who are regular travellers across the Leeds city region.

“They will also help to end the situation we have at the moment where people from these places are driving across the border into West Yorkshire and filling up already busy station car parks to be able to take advantage of existing MetroCard savings.”

Coun Downes acknowledged that the new zones would not work out cheaper for all, but said that it was a first step that could be improved upon.

And Tim Calow, chairman of the Aire Valley Rail Users Group (AVRUG), said the extension of the Metro zone to Skipton was to be welcomed – although further work needed to be done.

“It is a step forward, but if anyone thinks that coming into Metro will save them money they will be disappointed,” he said.

“If people are only travelling into Leeds or Bradford, it won’t save them money. Where it does give an advantage is if people travel further, beyond Leeds or Bradford.”

Mr Calow said the new zone could make it easier to travel across the whole of West Yorkshire. But he said Skipton’s traffic issues could only be tackled if bus travel was included and other methods of transport, such as cycling, were encouraged.

Craven District Council leader Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton said he was pleased the Metro zones had been extended to Skipton.

“This is something that Craven has been pushing for for some time and it will make a big difference to residents of Craven who are regular travellers into West Yorkshire,” he said.

He said the next step was to extend the zones further, to stations such as Gargrave.

And North Yorkshire county councillor Clare Wood, executive member for passenger transport, said: “MetroCard is a strong brand and for many years people in Harrogate and Skipton have asked for this facility to be introduced.”

Steve Butcher, an area director with Northern Rail, said: “These new products will enable passengers from both Skipton and Harrogate to benefit from the flexibility of being able to travel around the Leeds city region with just one ticket.”

A MetroCard from Skipton will cost £39.60 a week, £152.50 a month, £457.50 for four months and £1,587 annually.

The new tickets are being introduced initially for a trial period in order to assess demand.