A new Government taskforce looking at how to accelerate rail electrification in the north and where that electrification should occur has been set up by the Government. The taskforce will consist of rail experts, local MPs and local councils and will report directly to the Transport Secretary and the Prime Minister within 12 months.
Importantly, among a small number of routes the taskforce will look at is the Leeds – Harrogate – York line.
Local MP Andrew Jones has raised the issue in Prime Minister’s Questions and Transport Question on the floor of the House of Commons and also presented the business case for electrification of the Harrogate line directly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Speaking at the Dispatch Box, the Transport Secretary described Andrew as a ‘doughty campaigner for electrification’.
The business case was drawn up by local experts and rail campaigners and was launched at Harrogate station by Andrew Jones attracting media coverage across the North and West Yorkshire.
It seems every day the wheels turn that bit faster on the campaign to electrify our rail line. We’ve gone from being at a standstill to making good progress towards electrification which will mean newer trains, more services and faster connections.
“I have written to the Transport Secretary today thanking him for setting up this group and including our local line in the short list for electrification. When we think of the benefits electrification can bring to our area in terms of business and leisure tourism, trade and easing congestion I believe we are in with a good chance of persuading the task force that our case is among the strongest.
“We have seen more movement on electrification in the past two years than in the past two decades. It has been a great privilege to work with the County Council, the District Council, local rail companies and the Chamber of Trade and Commerce to get us to this stage.
“It isn’t the time for the campaign to let up – we will push the case for our area strongly with the new task force.”
The Chief Executive of the Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Brian L Dunsby said:
We are delighted that our combined efforts to focus the key stakeholders to adopt a common sense, affordable, long-term solution to radically improve connectivity and accessibility for the Harrogate area appear to have paid off and the DfT are now taking our sound Business Case seriously.