A DROP in the number of passengers on the Wharfedale and Airedale lines will lead to worse congestion on the roads, councillors are warning.

Data presented to Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Scrutiny Committee revealed a reduction in rail usage in the district of 19 per cent for morning peak usage comparing 2017 to 2016.

After the meeting Craven councillor Adrian Naylor revealed worrying trends from the latest data for Ilkley, Ben Rhydding, Steeton and Silsden stations.

In the period 2016/17 the Steeton-Silsden railway station was used by 851,608 people, and in 2017/18 by 838,952 people. This was a drop of 1.5 per cent.

On the Wharfedale line during the same period Ilkley showed a drop of 1.6 per cent to 1,336,554 people, and Ben Rhydding a 5.1 per cent drop to 219,742 people.

Cllr Naylor said increasing road congestion would be further fuelled by the ongoing massive housebuilding in the area.

He said: “The implications are clear that more and more people are choosing to travel by other means. By building more houses in our area this will only lead to more road congestion.”

Silsden has been earmarked for 1,200 houses over the next few years – with several hundred already built.

During the Bradford Council meeting councillors claimed commuters had lost confidence that local rail services would get them to their destinations on time.

This week Ilkley ward councillor Anne Hawkesworth said:”It is worrying if there is a downturn in rail use (probably from Ilkley mainly to Leeds) as the roads are going to feel the impact with congestion etc.

“Two factors to take into account also. If there are parking issues and increased cost of parking there is likely to be a drift back to increased car usage .

“Also increased housing further up the valley could also impact on roads resulting in even more congestion in centres.

She said in relation to parking in Ilkley town centre and the possibility of increased parking at Ben Rhydding station cars coming from the Addingham side of town would have to do two extra journeys through Ilkley - which was why some parking facility was needed at the West end of town.

She added: “There has been an healthy increase in rail patronage over past few years and it truly is dire if this has reversed and continues.”