A Bradford passenger group says more investment is needed to tackle overcrowding on train services in the district after Northern Rail was granted an extension of its franchise.

James Vasey, chairman of Bradford Rail Users’ Group, welcomed yesterday’s announcement that the Department for Transport had renewed the rail operator’s licence to run services in the area until April 2014, but said he hoped extra cash would be made available for new carriages to improve journeys for commuters.

Northern Rail was first granted its franchise in 2004 on a “no growth, no investment” basis, which meant it has had to rely on money from stakeholders and shareholders for additional carriages, new stations and improvements to stations.

Northern currently operates a fleet of Class 333 electric trains on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines, connecting Bradford with Ilkley and Skipton, as well as a much older fleet of diesel trains on the Caldervale route, which runs between Leeds and Manchester via Bradford Interchange.

Mr Vasey said: “Northern Rail is a fantastic operator, but it has been held back by the original franchising agreement.

“The main problem people come to us about is overcrowding. If you get a service from Bradford Interchange into Halifax or Leeds, you have to squeeze on and it’s very uncomfortable.

“But improvements can’t happen without investment.”

Northern Rail said since it was first awarded a franchise in 2004 it had used £130 million on improvements and had increased the number of trains arriving on time from 83.7 per cent to 91.9 per cent.