Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, has been elected to influential positions on two key committees concerned with local rail infrastructure.
The Rail in the North All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) is a cross-party group of MPs who regularly meet to take evidence from industry and users to promote improvements to the service. Andrew has been re-elected Vice Chair.
The Northern Electrification Task Force has been set up by the Secretary of State for Transport to look in to how to allocate the next tranche of government funding for rail electrification. Andrew has been elected Chair of the group.
The appointments come at a critical time for rail in our area as the campaign to secure improvements to local infrastructure improvements has reached the Secretary of State through a business case drawn up by local rail groups and other interested parties.
Commenting on his appointments Mr Jones said: What is these days called connectivity is essential for our local economy; to secure long-lasting and sustained growth. That connectivity can be broadband, air links, rail links and the like. The quicker we can move people, products, raw materials and information around the better we are placed to take advantage of the opportunities in the local, regional and global business market.
Rail is an area which has seen historic under-investment particularly in the north. The government is seeking to address that. There has already been a cash allocated to electrify the most used links such as the trans-Pennine link. We are seeing HS2 being progressed and now the government is in the early stages of thinking on HS3 – a high-speed line linking east and west.
Whilst we need to consider the regional context, I know just how desperately the Leeds to York line requires modernising. As a local MP, I will be making that case powerfully on both committees.
Harrogate Chamber’s Chief Executive Brian Dunsby welcomed confirmation of Andrew’s leading roles in these two key rail committees.
Brian Dunsby said: Andrew has been a strong supporter of the Chamber’s original bid for electrification of the Leeds-Harrogate-Knaresborough-York rail line that began in 2010. His past experience and contacts within the DfT as a PPS should enable him to coordinate the various parties involved in determining the best options for the next stage of investment in electrification in the North of England.
Brian added “clearly the Harrogate Line is a vital service for the local economy which depends heavily on business and leisure visitors all day, every day, all the year round and not simply on local peak-hour commuter services.
The detailed Business Case by WSP which was funded by the local councils confirmed that electrification of the Harrogate Line generates excellent value for money with a benefit-to-cost ratio of 3.6:1. It is also technically easier to install overhead lines on this route than some of the other contenders, so we are optimistic that it will be selected for investment. Then the quality and the frequency of trains on the line can be greatly enhanced.