TWO train companies have been asked to carry on running services because of a hitch in negotiations with a new contractor.
Arriva Trains Northern and First North Western were due to bow out in the middle of next month.
They could now stay on for up to six months.
The new Northern franchise was scheduled to be taken over by Anglo-Dutch consortium Serco-Ned on October 17.
But so far the company has failed to finalise a contract with the Strategic Rail Authority.
The existing operators have been asked to continue running local services, including some in the Huddersfield area.
The delay has been criticised by a transport union boss, who said railways should be brought back under public control.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "Franchising out rail services costs the industry millions as it is.
"But this mess is going to cost even more and will create massive uncertainty for rail workers and passengers.
"Even in its death throes, the SRA is making a dog's breakfast of things. If it can't sort out a contract on time, what hope is there for Northern rail services?" said Mr Crow.
And West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority chairman Clr Stanley King said: "I find it very surprising that after such a long period there is still uncertainty about awarding the franchise.
"This is unfair and must be very unsettling to staff and the passengers, who do not know what the future holds."
An SRA spokesman could not put a date on when the new franchise would start.