Exciting new Azuma trains for Harrogate soon
A bright new era for Harrogate rail passengers will be heralded with a sneak preview of the first Azuma trains next week.
Passengers may be experiencing daily misery on the Harrogate-Leeds line but it will be more a case of bunting than Beeching when the VIP launch for the new Azumas takes place at Harrogate station next Tuesday.
Although the sleek and spacious new trains do not begin running in earnest directly to London until Sunday, December 15, next week’s glittering celebration signifies a step change in the town’s links to the capital city.
From the middle of next month, five new direct services to and from London King’s Cross will be launched by London North Eastern Railway.
Among those invited to the event are members of the Harrogate Line Supporters Group who have campaigned for nearly 20 years for this moment.
Brian Dunsby OBE of Harrogate Line Supporters Group, who is a former chief executive of Harrogate and District Chamber of Commerce, said: “I have been campaigning actively to achieve more direct services between Harrogate and London since 2008.
"There had been some concern when the Government withdrew a Virgin and Stagecoach consortium of the franchise last year but it’s pleasing that the new LNER team have confirmed their commitment to the Harrogate Line.”
Big claims have been made in advance for the high standards and exciting nature of the Azuma trains, not least from LNER itself.
However, Harrogate Line Supporters Group member Andrew Whitworth has warned that late trains could make the situation more difficult when the extra Harrogate-London services are introduced in December.
He said: “The current layout means that certain trains have to reverse from the station to change lines, and this blocks both tracks for several minutes.
“The timetable manages to squeeze this in at the moment, but if trains are late it will disrupt other services.
“These manoeuvres will be more regular when the London trains start running next month.”
The daily departure times of Harrogate’s new London services are: from Harrogate - 07.34, 09:36, 11:36, 13:36, 15:36 and 17:36, and from London King’s Cross - 07:33, 09:33, 11:33, 13:33 15:33 and 17.33.
Different times will apply on a Sunday.