BOOZE-FUELLED train parties have turned two tranquil towns into weekend no-go zones for villagers.
The popularity of The Ale Trail, a rail tour of pubs from Manchester to Leeds, soared when BBC TV presenters Oz Clarke and James May followed in its tracks three years ago.
But now there are fears the real ale route, which includes stops at pubs in Huddersfield and Dewsbury, has become a victim of its own success in the quiet villages of Marsden and Slaithwaite.
The trail, originally designed to promote real ale pubs, has been ‘hijacked’ by stag, hen, office and birthday parties getting tanked up on cheap lager, wine and alcopops.
According to villagers, police and rail authorities, Marsden and Slaithwaite have this year become epicentres of drunken anti-social behaviour.
Complaints about rowdy behaviour, littering and urinating in the street – often in broad daylight – have increased as numbers of revellers hitting village streets each weekend have reached their thousands.
Yesterday police, transport bosses, councillors, pub owners, villagers and local business owners met at Marsden Mechanics Hall to discuss the problems and solutions.
The meeting was organised by Kirklees Council and Friends of Slaithwaite Station.
Mike Inman, co-director of Ossett Brewery which owns the Riverhead pub, Marsden, said: “It’s been hijacked. On Saturday it’s not the real ale trail.”
Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney added: “I witnessed a bloke not even turn around to urinate at 3.40pm and there was a woman there pushing a buggy.
“We don’t want it to become another Blackpool or Wakefield on a Friday night.
“It should be called the ‘Lager Line’.”
Martyn Guiver, head of crime management at Northern Rail which runs services into Marsden and Slaithwaite, said 2012 had been the worst year for drunken anti-social behaviour along the Colne Valley line.
Mr Guiver said: “I think it’s about as big as it will get. Maybe this will be the novelty year but it’s not going to go down and we have to be prepared for it.”
Solutions mooted at the meeting included more policing but Sgt Rudy Tanghe, of British Transport Police, said he would struggle to supply extra officers on the ale trail.
Sgt Tanghe, whose officers’ beats include West Yorkshire, said: “We’re back in the football season and despite our best endeavours we can’t get the staff out on the rail ale trail.
“On Saturdays our resources are taken up by the football matches.”
Other solutions suggested included volunteer marshals, signs warning people to respect the villages and temporary street urinals which could be wheeled out on weekends.
Victoria Minton, chairman of Friends of Slaithwaite Station, said: “We’ve known about this for the last two years.
“It’s important we bring it to the attention of all agencies.”
It is properly known as The TransPennine Ale Trail
The idea was conceived by real ale buffs, to enjoy sampling beers without having the drive
The Trail runs from Stalybridge through to Batley and takes in Greenfield, Marsden, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield, Mirfield and Dewsbury stations
The Trail received a major boost when it was featured on the BBC series Oz and James Drink to Britain.
A ticket from Stalybridge to Batley costs £10.90.