TRAVELLERS have given the thumbs-up to big changes on train services between Huddersfield, Leeds and Manchester.
Troubled rail firm Arriva Trains Northern saw its franchise with the busy TransPennine service end at the weekend.
First Group, which already runs buses around Huddersfield, will now operate the seriously overcrowded commuter routes to Manchester and Leeds.
First Group - in partnership with French rail firm Keolis - was awarded the franchise by the Strategic Rail Authority.
Planned changes will see trains running every 15 minutes between Leeds and Manchester.
Under Arriva, they were scheduled every half-hour.
The new company, First Keolis, is also promising new trains in two years.
Arriva's reputation suffered badly in 2002 and 2003, following chronic driver shortages and strikes.
Commuter Jean Doherty, 37, of Paddock - waiting at Huddersfield station for her Manchester train - said Arriva had a terrible attitude to customer service.
She added: "It was terrible. There were cancellations, no information when trains were going to be cancelled or why they were going to be late."
Vicki Foster-Macbride, 21, was waiting to catch a train to the city's Salford University, where she is on a biology course.
She said there had been no overnight improvement in the service. She travels between Manchester and Huddersfield two or three times a week.
"This is the third time in a row the train's been late," she complained
She added that Sunday services had been particularly unreliable under Arriva and that the intermittent strike action had caused her a real headache. "I was catching trains more last year and it was a lot worse," she said.
Martin Eastwood, 56, of Kirk- heaton, said he had been happy with Arriva's service.
He works in the pharmaceutical industry and flies to Dublin from Manchester Airport almost every week.
"I have had a couple of experiences when the trains have been overcrowded, but generally speaking I won't travel at peak times and it's been OK," he added.
Richard Fieldhouse, chairman of the Huddersfield, Penistone and Sheffield Rail Users' Association, said the First Keolis appointment gave an opportunity for a fresh start.
"We don't expect miracles in the short term, but there is scope for improvement in both trains and stations," he said.
Elisabeth Wilson, the Colne Valley Liberal Democrats' Parliamentary spokeswoman, said: "There is nowhere in the country where a good rail service is as important as between Leeds and Manchester. The M62 cannot cope."