SMALL changes to rail infrastructure, such as longer platforms at stations, could make a huge difference to local rail services, according to West Yorkshire Councillors.

Representatives of Councils across West Yorkshire met yesterday to discuss local transport issues, and raised concerns about capacity of the rail network.

They argued that while there were long term, lofty plans for the local rail network, including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, there were a number of smaller issues that needed resolving before rail users saw their services improving.

A report that went to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee yesterday revealed that a number of new rail services that were due to be introduced in December had been delayed or cancelled.

Extra services in Bradford could not be introduced due to a lack of capacity at Leeds Station - according to the report.

And many local stations will likely need longer platforms before new, increased capacity, services are introduced.

Bradford rail services suffer due to lack of capacity in Leeds

Platform 0 at Leeds Station - a development that is likely to improve services to and from Bradford, will not be completed until December 2021.

Councillor Mike Ellis (Cons, Bingley Rural) pointed out that major developments were planned for the former Yorkshire Water site in Apperley Bridge and in Kirkstall Forge. But he said the new rail stations in these two areas suffered from sporadic rail service.

He told the committee: “I picked up a train timetable to look at the number of trains stopping there, and of the 59 that pass through those stations it appears that only about five stop. We spend millions on these new stations, and we hardly get any trains stopping there.”

Leeds Councillor Kim Groves, Chair of the Committee said: “Rail performance is not all just about operation, it is also about infrastructure, and we still don’t have solutions to that.

“We need extensions to platforms. Services are full to capacity - they need four or five carriages but the stations don’t have platforms big enough to accommodate them. We can’t get the trains to stop at the stations because they won’t fit.

“It is ridiculous in the 21st century.

“Works like this need to be at the forefront of government priorities. The Government says it is going to invest in the North, it needs to put investment in areas like this.”

Calderdale Councillor Tim Swift said: “Some of this is nit picking smaller things, like ‘should platform 17 in Leeds be longer?’

“But that kind of nit picking has a fundamental impact on the transport network.

“Things like platform sizes lead to people being stuck in two carriage trains, and the number of complaints that stem from this is enormous.

“There are discussions on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, but these things, if they happen, are way into the future. These issues can be sorted now.”