A passenger train operator has been accused of "finger-pointing" after blaming a late-running freight train for delays to services on a key West Yorkshire route.

Northern, which runs local services in areas such as Bradford, Huddersfield and Halifax, tweeted that services would be "cancelled or delayed" between Wakefield Kirkgate and Leeds as the line was "blocked" by a behind-schedule freight.

But the franchise holder's explanation drew criticism from rail industry experts and enthusiasts, who suggested Northern had been too eager to point out that the blame lay elsewhere. 

Yesterday morning's Northern tweet said: "Due to a late running freight train between Wakefield Kirkgate and Leeds the line is blocked towards Leeds.

"Train services running through these stations will be cancelled or delayed by up to 30 minutes."

In a subsequent update, Northern again drew attention to the offending freight train by stating: "Following a late running freight train between Wakefield Kirkgate and Leeds the line has reopened.

"Train services running through these stations are returning to normal but some services may still be cancelled or delayed."

Nigel Harris, Editor of industry magazine Rail, replied: "Here we go again. Northern opts for finger-pointing. ‘Late running train’ wd have done.

"Wd you have said ‘a late running Northern train’?

"Thought not. Please stop finger pointing - and how do you know that the freight hadn’t been delayed by YOUR late running trains?"

Rail enthusiast Rick K added: "We apologise…. Trains are running late is all that is required. We’re doing our best to get you home etc."

Ian S Derbyshire observed: "You could hold a competition to find the most accurate & useful explanations for your customers of what's happening on the railway you share with other train operators. Do you really describe a train that is running, albeit late, as causing the line to be "blocked"...?

Northern replied: "Hi Ian, this service was being delayed in this area and blocking the line for the services behind, it has now been able to get on the move and services are able to run towards Leeds again."