The start of every year sees the price of train fares go up and yet the quality of service appears to diminish, with some morning commuter trains regularly arriving late, and on occasion not arriving at all.

Northern Rail’s fares are going up by an above-inflation average of 6.7 per cent, the equivalent of 20p to 30p for a single journey, according to the York-based company.

In a statement issued last December, the company explained: “...there is an existing agreement for fares in West Yorkshire to increase at a higher rate to help pay for additional trains that were brought in to help alleviate overcrowding in 2006 and this has impacted on the overall average.”

Extra revenue from fare increases may well be used to pay for more trains and improvements to stations. The question is will trains turn up on time?

Of late, commuter trains on the Airedale line, especially those coming from Skipton to Leeds and Skipton to Bradford, have been arriving up to 18 minutes late.

Local railways writer Steve Broadbent, a regular user of the Wharfedale line into Leeds and Bradford, said it was knowing why trains were late that was the problem.

He said: “There was an office of rail regulation statement urging rail companies to do more to make information available so that passengers know what’s happening.”

Recently, Network Rail released figures showing how many services by the various train operators were more than one minute late over the past 12 months.

Top of the list for bad timekeeping was Crosscountry with a punctuality rate of only 48 per cent. Virgin Trains were next worst on 54.1 per cent, followed by Southern on 56.9 per cent.

Northern Rail were listed 13th out of 19 companies with a punctuality rate of 74 per cent. The people getting wet at Saltaire station one morning last week still waiting for the 08.11 train to Leeds at 08.29 might be surprised. It is not unusual for morning trains from Skipton to arrive late.

Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies has resorted to travelling down to London on Sundays instead of Monday morning, getting a train at Shipley to Leeds to pick up his East Coast connection.

He said: “I can guarantee that the train from Shipley is delayed by five to ten minutes every time. It’s always, always late, it’s remarkable. I am now getting an earlier train than the one I want. I wouldn’t have thought it was that difficult to get trains to run on time.”

Clive Barton, vice president of the Bradford Rail Users’ Group, said: “Our opinion is there is massive room for improvement. Personally, I would like to see a fares freeze because fares have just got out of hand.

“To me it’s a way of suppressing demand, pricing people off the railways, not pricing people on. We have got higher fares and inadequate capacity.”

But if capacity is inadequate, that’s only because more and not fewer people are commuting into and out of Bradford and Leeds during the week.

Asked for an explanation for the incompatibility between higher fare increases and poorer commuter services, Northern Rail said in a statement: “We apologise to those passengers affected by delays to some services on the Airedale line.

“There have been a number of factors that have contributed to this over recent weeks including a section of track being out of use at Skipton delaying trains at the beginning of their journey; low adhesion to the track, typical in autumn, meaning drivers have to adjust their speed, braking and acceleration accordingly.

“Over the last two weeks, since the timetable change, we have seen a slight improvement in punctuality and will continue to work with our industry partners to ensure more and more trains run on time.”

In addition to train fares rising, Metro is reminding bus travellers that the cost of MetroCard, MetroDay, DayRover will cost 2.9 per cent more from next Wednesday.

Northern said a couple of years ago that it had invested £25m in better services and facilities since the start of its rail franchise.

But what’s the good of extra services with additional capacity if trains don’t run on time, making passengers late for work, for appointments and for train connections to other destinations?