On Monday morning this week commuter trains from Skipton to Leeds and Bradford were delayed, one was cancelled.

Then on Tuesday a train broke down at Guiseley and that was followed by a signal failure elsewhere on the Airedale and Wharfedale route.

In the evening, hundreds of commuters at Shipley Station were left pondering their next move to get home to Baildon and beyond.

Delays and cancellations are all part and parcel of the rail passenger’s lot.

Councillor Chris Greaves, formerly Bradford Council’s transport spokesman, made an inquiry about what went wrong on Tuesday. He said: “Trains follow a complicated routing system to maximise usage and keep them moving. To be fair to Northern Rail, if something goes wrong there is a knock-on effect everywhere else because of the routing system.

“The issue is: the system is over-stretched. Rail usage has gone up by about 50 per cent over the past ten years. Apart from the four-carriage trains, which are comparatively new, the two-car push-and-pull Pacer trains are 40 years out of date.”

Clive Barton, of the Bradford Rail Users’ Group, regularly travels on the Wharfedale and Airedale lines and is well aware of the problems. But he hopes forthcoming additions to the rail service will improve matters.

“Come December, Northern Rail is going to enhance the service. They are putting on an extra train in the morning and evening from Skipton to Leeds and Ilkley to Leeds. We are getting hand-me-down trains from Scotland, so they will be increasing staff to operate them,” he said.

Northern Rail’s official response to these problems, like some of its trains, has yet to arrive, but the company did apologise for Tuesday morning’s delays, due to the breakdown of a train at Guiseley Station. Mr Barton acknowledged that the railway authority’s problems were compounded by the theft of signalling cable, but said Northern Rail needed to keep the travelling public informed instead of keeping them in the dark.

“If cable theft is the problem they should be clear about it so people know what’s going on,” he added.

Last month British Transport Police, which has a cable theft team called Operation Leopard, took part in a national campaign on the issue. Detective Inspector Mick Jackson said cable thieves did not make huge amounts of money selling retrieved cable wire to scrap metal dealers and risked death by electrocution obtaining it.

Wharfedale Rail Users’ Group wants the public to back an e-petition campaign to persuade Parliament to introduce a cashless scrap metal sales system to deter cable thieves.

Meanwhile, according to satellite navigation company TomTom, Bradford city centre is one of the most traffic congested in the country. That being so, it makes no sense to have a train service that is erratic and prone to serious delays. If the ambition is to promote Britain’s Curry Capital and World City of Film as an international city of business and culture, Bradford has got to have a transport system to equal Birmingham, Manchester and London, let alone the European continent.

To get it, however, requires a redistribution of funds from South to North which is only likely through serious collective lobbying by MPs, said Chris Greaves.

“Over in Manchester they’ve got their act together. MPs go in mob-handed. We don’t seem to have that to the same degree over here. MPs should be shouting with one voice.

“If our MPs all got on a Keighley to Leeds or Ilkley to Leeds train at eight in the morning, the services that are over-capacity, they would know what their constituents have to put up with,” he added.

Bradford Council leader Councillor Ian Greenwood said the whole transport infrastructure of Bradford had not been well served by previous City Hall administrations. He added: “I have asked officers to look at a plan to have a fit-for-purpose 21st century transport infrastructure, which at some point will be put into the public arena.”