Improved performance and capacity for Harrogate rail line

25 April 2012

Passengers on the Harrogate line will have a more reliable service as Network Rail completes the resignalling of the route. At the same time a turnback facility is being built at Horsforth to facilitate future increases in rail services.

£16m is being invested to improve the reliability of the route by provision of modern signalling between Kirkstall Viaduct and Harrogate station. Engineers will also build a turnback at Horsforth which will allow Northern Rail to run a shuttle service between Harrogate and Leeds in the future.

Warrick Dent, area manager for Network Rail, said:

The Harrogate line is a real success story and passenger demand is expected to continue to grow. This substantial investment is great news for rail passengers as the new equipment will not only be more reliable but will give provision for future increases in line speed and the possibility for increased services.

This is just one of many projects we are completing to improve services for passengers in the area. Others include resignalling between South Kirby and Wakefield; and Huddersfield and Bradford; a new southern entrance at Leeds station; a turnback at Micklefield and, in partnerships with local partners, new stations at Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge.

The signalling work on the Harrogate line involves the installation of new equipment, structures and bases along the route.

Engineers will also install new track, sleepers and ballast for the new turnback close to Horsforth station. Significant earth and drainage works will be completed on the land which was purchased from Leeds City Council. The project is working with Natural England and the Environment Agency. All vegetation which is removed will be replaced with wildlife/railway friendly flora.

Signalling will be transferred from Horsforth and Rigton signal boxes into Harrogate, increasing efficiencies as these boxes close.

Don Mackenzie, Leader of Harrogate Borough Council said:

These improvements to our railway line are very welcome, and I thank Network Rail for introducing them.

I sincerely hope that they are to be accompanied in due course by further major upgrades including electrification of the line, additional stations or halts, including one for Leeds Bradford Airport, increased frequency of service and faster, more modern rolling stock.

Apart from providing better rail connections for our residents, our visitor economy – business and leisure – needs good public transport , and especially a modern rail service. Today’s news from Network Rail is a very encouraging start.

Brian Dunsby, Chief Executive of the Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce  said:

This is good news for Harrogate rail passengers as it will improve line performance and reliability.   It will permit more trains to operate on this part of the line – when we can find them!

It is an essential precursor for the upgrading of the whole line from Leeds to Harrogate, Knaresborough and onward to York


Key dates

  • Week of 12 April – land purchase completed, Horsforth
  • Saturday 28 April – Work starts on turnback at Horsforth. Train service affected for 30 hours.
  • July – track works in Horsforth
  • 12 and 19 August – road closure at Rigton Level Crossing, Rigton. To allow for the plain lining of a redundant crossover in this location.
  • 25 August and 1 September – new crossovers installed at Horsforth to give access to turnback – train service affected for 30 hours
  • 13 to 29 October, full road closure at Rigton Level Crossing, Rigton to allow the conversion of the level crossing to a manually controlled CCTV crossing
  • 27, 28, 29 October – 54-hour signalling commissioning. Train service affected.





  1. In what way is the Harrogate line a ‘real success story’? It has been fraught with late trains to the extent where I personally gave up trying to use it to commute to Leeds. In any given week, I would say the trains were late at least two days going into Leeds for one reason or another. Signalling improvements are fine, but they aren’t going to help the times when ‘the driver hasn’t turned up’ or ‘the train broke down near Poppleton’.

    • How negative can one individual possibly be? Do you think that the rail operators run late services for a joke. You can add as many glib little comments you want about late running services etc, the only person who would find your childish comments amusing is you. Personally I think it’s great news. Some investment for the Harrogate line at last.

  2. I am pleased to see Mackenzie and Dunsby have come to their senses and stopped pedling dc ground electrification and old redundant Underground trains. Knowledgeable Harrogate commuters don’t want this. Nine months of pushing for 25kv overhead electrification and modern trains has finally rubbed off on them. Leeds Metro has decided 25kv is the correct system to install, being compatible with other lines radiating from Leeds.
    Resignalling is a good addition to reduce Harrogate-Leeds journey times that are far too long for only 18 miles.
    When is the Leeds bound platform at Harrogate going to have a canopy fitted? This naked platform is a disgrace and disincentive for a town of this size.

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