THE party’s over for the rail revellers.
Drunken visitors who ruined weekends for hundreds of villagers by taking part in the Real Ale Trail have lost their battle with the authorities following a concerted crackdown.
For months if not years, residents of Slaithwaite and Marsden and elsewhere on the TransPennine trail have complained of the havoc brought to their doorsteps by the antisocial behaviour of men and women who hijacked the trail.
Their lives were made a misery by revellers on stag and hen parties, often in fancy dress, who urinated and vomited in gardens and intimidated anyone who objected.
Finally, the authorities decided to act and their tough action appears to be paying off as the message hits home.
Police began their crackdown last month, with mounted officers greeting the throngs of party-goers off the trains in Marsden while other police officers patrolled the streets.
Police also travel on the trains to maintain order and reassure passengers.
And now the revelry has virtually died down.
Pubs played their part too. The Railway in Marsden served beer in plastic glasses while the Riverhead Brewery, one of the most popular destinations on the trail, just yards away, took even more draconian steps by refusing to sell lager, cider, alcopops and shots on Saturdays.
Faced with the determination of British Transport Police, (BTP), West Yorkshire Police, Northern Rail , First TransPennine Express as well as community groups, residents and businesses, revellers appear to be finding other, more welcoming, destinations to have their fun.
On Saturday afternoon the Examiner was invited by BTP to see at first hand how the crackdown was working and the attempt to put the ‘Real Ale’ back into the trail.
There was not a single person dressed as an inflatable banana in sight and contented families with pushchairs and ice-cream had replaced the revellers.
Prior to the crackdown a single train arrival at Marsden could see more than 150 men disgorged into a huge snake as it wound its way into the village.
Inspector Richard Price of BTP said: “The Real Ale Trail has been on our policing radar for over a year now and as well as officers regularly patrolling the route, we have been engaging with train operators and the local communities and businesses at stations which are being affected by the influx of people every weekend.
“We will not hesitate to take action against anyone who does commit a crime or behaves in a problematic manner.
“Low level antisocial behaviour, which we know occurs on the trail when people have been drinking, is undoubtedly under reported.
“Passengers tend to accept or ignore the minority who make the journeys unpleasant for everyone else.”
Royce Franklin, Saddleworth parish councillor, said: “I am sure the original idea for the Real Ale Trail was sound and well-meaning.
“It is therefore, unfortunate, that because of the behaviour of a minority, measures are having to be taken to ensure the regular passenger feels safe.”
One Marsden resident, grateful for the crackdown, was Dorothy Lindley, who lives just yards away from the station.
The grandmother got the shock of her life in September last year when she found a drunken Ale Trail reveller in her living room.
He walked through her front door, complimented her on her home and asked her to make him a cup of tea.
Mrs Lindley, 78, said: “I am hoping that the battle is over and it appears to be going in that direction.”
The Real Ale Trail, which runs from Manchester to Leeds via the Colne Valley , Huddersfield, Mirfield and Dewsbury began four years ago as an enjoyable day out for genuine real ale enthusiasts after a TV programme popularised the route.
But it was not long before it began to be abused by huge numbers of lager-crazed revellers, many of them in fancy dress, searching for a cheap but fun day out.