Transport chaos: Harrogate Advertiser talks to Chris Grayling

Out with the old - An example of the Northern Rail trains which are being replaced as part of Government investment.
Out with the old - An example of the Northern Rail trains which are being replaced as part of Government investment.

The Harrogate Advertiser has talked to the Government minister in charge of transport as he unveiled a half million pound relief package towards easing Harrogate traffic congestion.

And Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told this newspaper he was confident that local rail problems were now going in the right direction.

Yorkshire visit - Transport Secretary Chris Grayling with Jeremy Ridyard, managing director and co-owner of Produmax engineering firm in Baildon near Shipley. (Picture by Graham Chalmers)

Yorkshire visit - Transport Secretary Chris Grayling with Jeremy Ridyard, managing director and co-owner of Produmax engineering firm in Baildon near Shipley. (Picture by Graham Chalmers)


During hia visit to Yorkshire last Friday, Mr Grayling announced that Highways England was to spend £500,000 on improvements to the A1 at junction 47 near Knaresborough.
Speaking in Baildon near Shipley where he also pledged £300,000 of support for a possible new bypass in the area, Mr Grayling said the A1 improvements had three aims:


To increase capacity on the road, reduce queuing and ease congestion into Harrogate and improve overall journey times.


Talking to the Harrogate Advertiser in a break from his tour of leading flight controls engineering firm Produmax, the former leader of the House of Commons was asked if he was in favour of a new relief road in Harrogate.


Mr Grayling, 56, said: “I haven’t seen any proper proposals yet but if there is a legitimate needs for a relief road it would be hard to refuse funding towards it. But we can’t do everything at once.
“It’s the big schemes that get the headlines but it’s often the small schemes that do the good.”


When asked about this year’s chaotic rail timetable problems in the north which had impacted on Harrogate commuters, too, the Transport Secretary said he was confident things were getting better.
Mr Grayling said: “I was in Harrogate with Andrew Jones MP at the railway station a month ago on the new trains we’ve delivered. We got positive feedback about them from passengers.“


When this newspaper pointed out the new trains were secondhand ones from Scottish railway lines, he blamed past Labour governments.
The minister said: “Trains have a normal lifespan of 31 years. The reason we’ve had to replace these old trains is because Labour governments didn’t invest in them.”
“A block of completely new trains will be arriving in the autumn across the north.
“The knackered old Pacer trains will be going to the scrapyard.”


As for the troubled railways, the minister said that the preceding day, Thursday had seen 92% of trains in the Northern Rail area hit their timetable targets.
He said: "All the problems have happened while huge positive investment has been going in to make major railway improvements.
"It's been a huge frustration that a delay to a major electrification scheme between Blackpool and Preston has affected everything.


"There's far more trains in the north now than six months ago.
“Next spring we will start the £3 billion Transpennine upgrade to substantially rebuild the railway line between Leeds and Manchester and Yprk.”

The upgrades to the A1 at junction 47 near Knaresborough will be carried out by North Yorkshire County Council, supporting the creation of new jobs at the planned Flaxby Green Business Park.

The money will come from Highways England’s £100 million fund to help local growth and housing schemes get off the ground.

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