Leeds Northern Railway Reinstatement Group’s founder has expressed his ‘disappointment’ that Ripon will have to wait at least 30 years for the railway to re-open.
Coun Adrian Morgan has been campaigning since 1987 for the reinstatement of the Harrogate-Ripon-Northallerton line since it closed in 1967.
Despite North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) including plans to create a new railway from Leeds to Harrogate, Ripon and Northallerton, Coun Morgan argued that it should be a higher priority.
Currently, the plans are part of a £210m scheme to create new North Leeds railways infrastructure which would only be delivered after 2030.
However, during a Harrogate Chamber of Trade meeting on Monday, November 2, Coun Morgan argued that it was unfair to make residents in Harrogate and Ripon wait so long for a vital service.
He said: “I welcome the fact that you recognise the need for a Harrogate, Ripon Northallerton line and it is in the prospectus for the Northern Powerhouse.
“However, I’m disappointed in the fact that people of Harrogate and Ripon will have to wait 30 years before they are going to get these trains.
“I had a statuatory commission in 2006 partly funded by NYCC it was in the report that 144,000 car journeys could be taken off A61 annually between Ripon and Harrogate if the railway was introduced.”
During the meeting, Coun Don Mackenzie, NYCC’s Executive Member for Highways, agreed that the reinstatement of the line was necessary but admitted that the plans could not be delivered in the short term.
He said: “Amongst other things there is various infrastructure been built over what used to be the railway line between Harrogate and Ripon.
“Network Rail are looking at a diversionary route on the East Coast line and it could be that they would reopen a diversionary route that would go through the old route and would rejoin further south.
“At this stage, of course we support it but we don’t we need to discuss it more tonight (Monday) because it won’t happen in the immediate future.”
MP for Ripon and Skipton, Julian Smith, said he was fully supportive of the project to reinstate the line and highlighted the importance on transport for tourism and business in the city.
He said: “Campaigners have long since been raising this issue with me and it’s a really exciting project.
“I’m delighted that it’s in the plans and I will support it however I can. I have made the case to campaigners to show this is a good use of public money.
“I’m happy to meet again to give my help to the project, but it’s really important for Ripon that we do consider this.”