Re-think urged over rail station parking charges

Hebden Bridge rail station could see parking charges introduced
Hebden Bridge rail station could see parking charges introduced

Passengers have reacted with disappointment to news that parking charges could soon be introduced at Hebden Bridge and Todmorden rail stations.

Proposals emerged earlier this week to make rail users pay at stations where parking is currently free as the Government negotiates an extension to the franchise held by Northern Rail, the company which runs local services across the North.

Nina Smith, of the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group, said it is a severely retrograde step which will have a number of detrimental consequences.

“An unknown number of travellers will decide to drive to their destination instead of using the train,” she said.

“The impact of this is more air pollution on a road that already has very high levels, and more carbon emissions, thus contributing further to climate change. It will also add to congestion on already congested routes.

“Achieving modal shift from cars to trains will become more difficult, which means that those vehicles’ emissions will continue.

“There will be an increasing amount of on-street parking. In the case of Hebden Bridge, both on and off-street parking is already at a premium.

“The cost of going to work will further increase at a time when rail fares are rising faster than inflation.”

Calder Valley based businessman Adrian Ashton, who uses the train for work, said: “A lot of people do drive to Todmorden and catch the train from there.

“If they are starting to put a charge on it, what might happen is we will see people parking on the side streets more and walking to the station to save on the cost of parking at the station.

“People will find a way around it but it will increase congestion elsewhere and put more pressure on local businesses, so there will be a knock-on effect for the rest of the town.

“It will probably create more trouble for other people in the town than the revenue it will generate for Northern Rail.”

Derrick Kershaw, of Todmorden, said he is in favour of rail station car parks being for the use of rail passengers only.

“I know of many intending to travel from Todmorden who cannot after about 8.30am find a parking space in the station car park because non-rail users are using it for free,” he said.

“I would prefer rail users to have controlled free parking at Northern Rail stations rather than having to pay an additional cost to their travel expenses.”

Todmorden town councillor David Tattersall, a keen rail campaigner, said introduction of parking charges was, in effect, a fare rise.

“It’s not good for rail travellers,” he said.

Northern Rail has stressed the proposals emerged at the behest of the Government.

Metro has urged Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to shelve the idea.