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Steeton & Silsden and Crossflatts railway station car parks charges concern
Free parking at railway stations could hit the buffers as train bosses seek to boost revenue.
Steeton & Silsden and Crossflatts stations on the Airedale line are among sites across West Yorkshire where charges are due to be introduced.
John Grogan, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Keighley, said he had learned of the proposal – which would take effect this summer – from sources within Northern Rail and the Department for Transport.
“They have informed me that as part of a deal to extend the franchise period of the rail company to 2016, savings are being proposed, which will include car parking charges at many stations that are currently free,” he said.
“These are likely to bring small amounts of revenue, but could cause traffic chaos in places like Steeton & Silsden and Crossflatts. Hard-pressed commuters will seek to park in neighbouring streets to the station to avoid the charges.”
He added: “We need to be encouraging commuters on to Yorkshire’s trains, not trying to fleece them to prop up the profits of Northern Rail.
“Rail passengers need to speak out now because the final decision is likely to be made in the corridors of Whitehall in the very near future.”
Bradford Council’s executive member for transport, Councillor Val Slater, called for alternatives and expressed fears about commuters parking outside nearby homes and businesses if charges are introduced.
She said: “It is very unfair on the travelling public. Fares have just gone up and now this.”
Parking at Steeton & Silsden station has long been a problem, with demand far outweighing the 200-plus spaces.
People drive from Lancashire and North Yorkshire to use the station to access cheaper travel.
“We did a survey a couple of years ago and people were coming from as far away as Preston,” said Coun David Mullen, chairman of Steeton-with-Eastburn Parish Council.
“With regard to any parking charges, I would like to see the detailed proposals before making comment.”
Northern Rail confirmed it was looking at ways of reducing costs, but declined to be drawn on whether that would include the scrapping of free parking.
“We continue to have constructive discussions with the Department for Transport and Rail North on what they want to happen in the new franchise agreement for Northern between April 2014 and February 2016,” said a spokesman.
“As part of those discussions, we have been asked to provide proposals that would reduce the cost to the taxpayer of running the railway, as well as providing better facilities and information for Northern customers.
“The details of the new franchise agreement are still being finalised and we cannot comment further until it is signed.”