Rail Electrification: Harrogate’s capital links

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Harrogate could be set to benefit from more direct, faster rail connections with London should the Leeds-Harrogate-York line be chosen for electrficiation.

The Northern Electrification Task Force, chaired by the MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough Andrew Jones, is currently deliberating which line will next benefit from the Government’s £9.4bn rail strategy.

If the task force were to choose Harrogate’s business case, the route would see an improved frequency of four trains per hour between Leeds, Horsforth and Harrogate.

Commuters would benefit from comfortable, modern, electric trains and journey times would be reduced by 15 minutes end-to-end.

This would bring the Leeds - Harrogate journey time down to under 30 minutes whilst benefiting employment, labour and international visitor markets in Leeds, Harrogate and York.

As electric trains have more seats than diesel trains of the same length, commuters on the line would benefit from reduced overcrowding on a quieter, more reliable train.

Leader of the council, Richard Cooper, made a motion about the benefits of electrification at a council meeting on October 8, calling upon the Department for Transport (DfT) and Network Rail to make it a priority.

He said: “The City of York Council and Harrogate Borough Council note the economic, social and environmental benefits that would be delivered by the electrification of the Leeds-Harrogate-York line.

“The motion was more of a rallying call.

“We want to improve transport links in a long-term project and councils should be thinking long-term. Everyone is pointing in the same direction on this front.

Additional stations on the Leeds-Harrogate-York line and improved links from Harrogate to London could also result from the electrification of the line.

Direct Services to Harrogate

Currently, Harrogate runs one direct service to London each way daily, and otherwise a diesel train as an extension of the Kings Cross to Leeds/York service but the electrification could mean additional, faster direct rail services.

Mr Jones said there had already been ‘significant growth’ of the London line but wanted more direct Harrogate to London trains to satisfy demand.

He said: “It’s always good to bring people into our area and the demonstrate the quality of life here for people who are travelling in.

“Currently, its very difficult to run the system because most of the changes are electric trains coming in from London to Harrogate.

“However, if we go electric all sorts of different routes will become available and it makes it much easier for trains companies to come to our area which is very important. It opens us up to all sorts of opportunities”

Chief Executive of Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Brian Dunsby, said he believes the London to Harrogate volumes have grown by almost 25 per cent in the past three years and improved direct services have contributed to this.

Therefore, it is not only Harrogate’s thriving business population returning from London who would welcome the direct service but also the business and leisure visitors coming to the town from the capital.