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End of the line for Wharfedale passenger group
8:00am Friday 25th October 2013 in News
A passenger group which successfully battled to turn around the fortunes of Wharfedale’s railway services over 28 years is to disband at the end of this month.
Wharfedale Rail Users’ Group (WRUG) formed at a time of crisis for the Wharfedale Line in 1985, is calling on campaigners to look towards a bigger national transport campaign group and wants the valley’s parish councils to take a bigger role.
WRUG was established when services to Bradford were under threat.
Since then the line has been electrified, with new trains, more peak hour trains to Leeds, and better station facilities, including refurbished ticket offices.
Now three stalwarts of the group, chairman Peter Wilkinson, Mike Harris, and honorary secretary, Peter Johnson, all want to retire, and there is no-one to replace them. They describe this as the ideal time to seek a new way forward.
Mr Wilkinson said: “Following the line’s electrification and improvements to service, passenger numbers have greatly increased. The train service has become a fully-specified part of the Northern Rail Franchise, with support from West Yorkshire Metro.
“There is now no threat of significant service reduction or closure of the line; indeed firm plans for longer Wharfedale Line peak hour trains to Leeds are part of the agreed Route Utilisation Strategy lodged with the Office of Rail Regulation.”
WRUG says the structure of the privatised network means campaigning is more effective through national groups, such as Railfuture or Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).
But better integration of rail services and local bus networks is needed, says WRUG, and the West Yorkshire branch of CBT promotes all forms of public transport.
The group believes provision of facilities at local stations would be best pursued by local station groups or parish councils.
The successful Burley Gardens project will continue as an independently-funded project.
Mr Wilkinson added: “WRUG thanks all those who have given it support over the past years and trusts that those with a concern for better public transport will give that support to CBT in future.
“Given the current threats to the funding of local buses in North Yorkshire, particularly the service 74 between Ilkley and Grassington, there is a need for a vigorous public campaign to protect this part of the public transport network in Wharfedale, and WRUG wishes CBT well in its campaigning.”
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