The Autumn Statement has brought a big boost for passengers on the Leeds-Harrogate-York line as the Chancellor announced the replacement of the so-called ‘cattle truck’ pacer trains.
The aging rolling stock is a constant bug-bear for commuters as they creak along the Harrogate line.
Local MP, Andrew Jones, often receives complaints about the condition of the rolling stock and the overcrowding which is often a feature of peak time journeys on the line.
Mr Jones commented: As Vice Chair of the Rail in the North All Party Parliamentary Group I have repeatedly made the point that our local rolling stock was past its best many, many years ago.
While we have seen extra services, better signalling and more automated ticket facilities, the change most people want is newer rolling stock.
I have met the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Transport to lobby for this change alongside the case for electrification.
This campaign has been supported by MPs of all parties representing constituencies along the line and shows what can be achieved when we all work together for the good of our communities.
Harrogate Chamber Chief Executive Brian Dunsby expressed pleasure and relief that the Chancellor has actually made this commitment to replacing the very outdated Class 140 series “Pacer” Trains which are widely used, but generally despised.
Brian said: They have been called ‘cattle trucks’ by the Deputy PM – or more charitably “Hogwarts Express” by those passengers who suffer the noisy, uncomfortable, slow and often unreliable services on the Harrogate line every day.
This is just one of the reasons that the Chamber has been campaigning for electrification of the Harrogate line – and with that would come much more modern electric rolling stock, similar to those already running on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines.
Recognition of the importance of rail connectivity to Leeds Bradford Airport is also welcome. We hope that the WYCA will see the logic in the Chamber’s detailed proposals for a new parkway station in between Bramhope and Horsforth which could be served by the existing airport long-stay car park shuttle busses.
Then when the Harrogate line is electrified the airport would have a 15-minute frequency service to both Leeds and Harrogate, without the high cost and inevitable delays in planning and funding, waiting for a new direct track to the terminal and dedicated rolling stock operating to and from Leeds at a lower frequency which would not serve Harrogate, Knaresborough or York at all.