County Council include reopening of Ripon railway in transport plans

Commuters waiting for the train
Commuters waiting for the train

The re-opening of the Ripon railway has been included in North Yorkshire County Council’s (NYCC) long term plans to improve transport links across the county.

On Monday, the Executive committee unanimously agreed to submit their Strategic Transport Prospectus to Transport for the North, created as part of the Northern Powerhouse.

As part of the strategy to improve the East Coast Mainline (ECML), NYCC have included plans to create a new railway from Leeds to Harrogate, Ripon and Northallerton.

The plans are part of a £210m scheme to create new North Leeds railways infrastructure but would only likely be delivered after 2030.

Coun Don Mackenzie, executive member for Highways, explained Network Rail have realised there is a need to reintroduce the line as a diversionary route for the ECML.

He said: “I regularly talk to members in Ripon who would love to see the city reconnected to the rail network and who can blame them?

“It will be a wonderful thing to have but it will take time because it would be a completely new track that needs to be laid away from the old track.

“I support Ripon people in their wish to have a new railway line but we can’t make any promises just yet.”

The report states the new railway line would join the ECML north of Northallerton to bring resilience to the line whilst benefiting housing and business growth in the area.

While the section of the Leeds-Northallerton Railway between Leeds and Harrogate still exists, trains continuing to Ripon closed in 1967.

Since then, many have campaigned and called for the line to be reopened, including Ripon Chamber of Trade who said they would support any reinstatement of a rail link.

Don Grundy, secretary of the chamber, said: “Obviously, the impact would be tremendous and allow us to grow the population of Ripon with good links to Harrogate and the North.

“The A61 is a horrendous road at rush hour, and although we don’t have any statistics, it must be one of the busiest single carriageway roads in the area.

“Industry would have a better chance to compete nationally and internationally by attracting employees to work in Ripon, and greater links to the National network would speed efficiency.”

The report highlights the importance of good transport links for businesses across the county but admitted in rural areas, people’s access to rail is limited.

Alan Weston, Ripon’s city development manager, agreed that better connectivity in Ripon would encourage other businesses into the city and help it grow.

He said: “It’s something that the community in Ripon have long wanted to see and there were a lot of comments about it when we were doing the City Plan.

“It’s encouraging to see that it’s there. I think it would be nice to see a train line back in Ripon, especially as a tourism destination.

“I think this will be well supported in Ripon. We know that it’s a very long term proposal but it’s nice to see its importance is being recognised.”