Hopes for a direct train service from Huddersfield to London may be in jeopardy after it was confirmed a rail franchise will be ended early.
Great North Western Railway (GNWR) had hoped to run six return journeys a day from London to Leeds via Huddersfield from December 2018 - the first direct service to the capital since the 1960s.
But that has now been thrown into doubt after the Government announced it would end the InterCity East Coast franchise early.
This has led the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which has powers over transport and economic development, to put pressure on the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to guarantee promised rail service improvements will be delivered despite the expected termination of the InterCity East Coast franchise.
In a letter to him, the authority underlines the importance of the additional services, due to be delivered in May 2019, to the Leeds City Region’s broader economic ambitions.
The introduction of weekday direct services from Dewsbury and Huddersfield to London and a significant increase in direct services between Leeds, York, Shipley, Bradford Forster Square, Horsforth, Harrogate and the capital are among the commitments included in the current franchise.
Mr Grayling, who is due to visit the Leeds City Region next week, confirmed in a statement to the House of Commons earlier this month that the current franchise will be terminated early.
The letter, signed by Clr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chairman of the Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, and Clr Keith Wakefield, Chairman of the Combined Authority Transport Committee, says: “As you will know, the current InterCity East Coast franchise contains a number of important service commitments for the Leeds City Region due for delivery from the May 2019 timetable change.
Do you want news alerts on Whatsapp?
The Examiner has launched a Whatsapp group to help make sure you don't miss a news break or big story.
If you'd like to receive alerts text NEWS to 07833 287309 . Then add the number to your contacts as 'Examiner'.
Your phone number won't be shared.
“The commitment for a significant increase in the number of through-trains to and from London to places beyond Leeds was particularly welcome and supports our inclusive economic growth agenda, as well as providing additional much-needed capacity between centres within the City Region.”
The letter asks Mr Grayling for “written assurance that the current commitments will be honoured.”
Clr Hinchcliffe said: “While it is clear that lessons need to be learned from another failure of the InterCity East Coast franchise, our immediate priority is to ensure that the improvements passengers have been promised will be delivered.
“As the Secretary of State considers next steps it is important the plans he puts in place include the commitments to the Leeds City Region secured in the current franchise agreement.”
Clr Wakefield said: “Businesses in our region have been planning on the basis of a significant increase in direct services between our towns and cities and London which have now been placed in doubt.
“We hope the Secretary of State will move quickly to offer reassurance that the termination of the InterCity East Coast franchise will not mean the loss of service improvements for which we have long worked.”