THE number of people using a Bradford rail station rose by 17 per cent in the past year, but it is thought the reason could partly be down to passenger dishonesty.

New figures show that the patronage of Frizinghall Station grew dramatically in the past 12 months - more than double the rise experienced at any other station in the district.

However, the head of a rail users’ group believes that a good amount of this rise is actually due to passengers merely saying they got the train at Frizinghall to get a cheaper ticket.

Other stations that saw a large increase in passengers in the past year were Menston, which saw a rise of 6.5 per cent, Baildon, 4.8 per cent and Burley in Wharfedale, 4.8 per cent.

The figures were recently revealed at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee, where members were also told that

In 2017 Northern Rail introduced new ticket barriers at Bradford Forster Square Station, making it much more difficult for people to get on or off the train without a valid ticket.

However, James Vasey, of the Bradford Rail Users Group, believes many people have been trying to cheat the system by buying the cheapest ticket they can, even if it is not for the station they are travelling to.

Frizinghall station is the closest station to Bradford Forster Square, and so a ticket to Frizinghall is the cheapest ticket people can buy if they want to get on/off a train at the station.

Mr Vasey thinks many passengers are either getting on a train to Bradford without a ticket, then purchasing a Frizinghall to Bradford ticket when they arrive at Forster Square, or buying a ticket from Bradford to Frizinghall as they head out of the city and chancing their luck by staying on the train.

He said although there may well be a rise in actual passengers using Frizinghall, such as students attending nearby Bradford Grammar and visitors to Lister Park and Cartwright Hall, stricter ticket collection is the most likely reason for the huge rise.

He added: “In the past people could probably get as far as Bingley or Keighley without being asked to show their ticket. All the sudden people now have to buy a ticket if they use the trains.

“If you get in to Forster Square and you haven’t bought a ticket, and have to buy one at the platform, then the cheapest ticket you can get is one from Frizinghall. This is why I think there has been a rise.

“Hopefully Northern will be providing more guards at stations in the future.”

Mr Vasey said that although some passengers may be manipulating the system, the fact that everyone had to buy tickets to travel now was “absolutely fantastic.”

He said: “It means now we will actually get a good idea of what the real numbers of people using the trains are.

“When people could use trains and get by without buying tickets we didn’t know that.”

The figures show that Bradford Interchange is the busiest station in the district with 2.98 million passengers in the 2016/17 year, followed by Bradford Forster Square and Shipley, with 2.11 million and 1.74 million, respectively.

Northern Rail was unavailable for comment.