North Yorkshire County Council has taken the first step in what is anticipated to be a multi-million pound modernisation and improvement of services on the York – Harrogate – Leeds rail line.
At a meeting this week, the NY Local Transport Body supported a proposal to invest £12.5m in the line. It was recommended that a contribution of £9.6m be made available from the North Yorkshire Local Transport Body. This funding is provided by the Department for Transport and is ring-fenced for major transport schemes.
The county council, Metro, City of York Council and Harrogate Borough Council, together with key stakeholders Network Rail, Northern and Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce, have been working with consultants looking into the modernisation of the York – Harrogate – Leeds Rail Line. This transformational project would see the electrification of the line, providing a boost to the local economy and bringing massive benefits for businesses, visitors and locals along the route.
The initiative would secure:
• doubling of service frequency together with additional early morning and evening trains
• end to end journey time reduction of 15 minutes
• the introduction of higher quality, lower cost electric trains
• improving connectivity and economic productivity within the region
• enhanced connections to national and international destinations and markets
• improved reliability and punctuality
The scheme represents extremely good value for money given the very high benefit to cost ratio and lower operating costs in the future.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Passenger Transport, said:
I am pleased that this council is able to support such an ambitious project, and can take the lead by sponsoring an application to the NY Local Transport Body for £9.6m. This is the first stage in the delivery of what could be a £150m regional investment.
Cllr Metcalfe added:
It is early days still, but with such a compelling business and financial case, we are hopeful for the commitment of central government, the rail industry and local partners to come together and find the funding needed to support this transformational scheme.
County Councillor Gareth Dadd ,Chair of North Yorkshire Local Transport Body, said:
There was unanimous support for this scheme from voting members of the Local Transport Body.
There is a compelling case for investment in this project and the decision of the Local Transport Body reflects this.
Commenting on behalf of Harrogate Borough Council, Cabinet Member for Planning, Transport and Economic Development, Cllr Alan Skidmore added:
I am delighted to have received the support of my board colleagues from North Yorkshire County Council and the NY LEP for backing this important improvement, which is a stepping stone to future electrification for the whole line from York to Leeds and a more frequent service.
It will certainly bring an economic benefit to the whole district and assist Harrogate International Centre in attracting further business and visitors.