TRAIN operator Northern Rail says it has no immediate plans to resolve ticketing problems on a popular train route into Huddersfield.
Overcrowding on the Penistone Line has meant that many passengers from the Denby Dale region are arriving at Huddersfield station with no ticket.
Ticketless passengers are then forced to queue to pay for their fares.
Peter Marshall, from the Huddersfield, Penistone and Sheffield Rail Users’ Association, said the failure to sell tickets on trains was the most common complaint they received.
He said: “We’ve raised it with Northern Rail a number of times and we’re not satisfied with the response we’ve had from them.
“Lots of the trains are so full we feel occasionally there’s a reluctance by the guards to go down the trains and issue tickets. We have no evidence to prove that, it’s just a feeling we get.”
Mr Marshall said they had suggested Northern Rail could introduce pre-paid books of tickets for infrequent travellers who did not want a season ticket, but the idea had been snubbed. And he said plans to introduce a London-style Oyster card system, where the card was pre-loaded with money which was reduced each time it was used, had been put on the back burner.
He added: “Frankly it’s an unsatisfactory state of affairs that needs to be resolved.
“The assumption has been that the passengers are trying to avoid paying and that’s not the case.
“Most are anxious to pay as they know the money is needed to make improvements to the network.”
Retired Clayton West resident, David Swap said he was a fan of rail travel but the ticket problems on the line between Sheffield and Huddersfield were out of control.
He said: “The 8.34am to Huddersfield is absolutely packed and the ticket conductor has absolutely no chance of getting down the carriages.
“They physically can’t get past the people because the stations are only two or three minutes apart.
“Northern Rail has tried to put two conductors on but that hasn’t worked.
“If the Penistone Line train arrives at Huddersfield at the same time as the TransPennine from Leeds the result is a massive queue of people having to pay to exit the station.
“By which time, if you are travelling on to Leeds, your train has departed.”
A spokeswoman for Northern Rail said they were aware of the problem but had no immediate plans to install ticket machines at stations on the line, including Denby Dale, Shepley, Stocksmoor, Brockholes or Honley.
She said: “We recognise it is not always possible for passengers to buy tickets before they board and, in some cases, it is not always possible for conductors to sell tickets on trains if they are particularly busy.
“However, we would encourage those customers who travel with us on a regular basis to purchase season tickets.
“We have a programme to introduce more ticket machines across our network. However, we must prioritise stations used by the greatest number of passengers.
“We are working with Kirklees Council and Metro to monitor the situation on the Penistone Line and make improvements wherever possible.”
But Mr Swap also said a season ticket was not the answer and said he liked the idea of pre-paid books of tickets.
He added: “I might take a train once a week or once every two or three months.
“It’s clear that Northern is missing out on loads of revenue as people are just walking out of stations without paying.
“I think we should all pay for our trains. The more that goes into the railways the better they’re going to be.”